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Jacinda Ardern resigns as New Zealand Prime Minister | Jacinda Ardern

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she is stepping down, in a shock announcement that came as she confirmed a national election for October this year.

At the party’s annual meeting on Thursday, Ardern said he “didn’t have enough in the tank anymore” to get the job done. “It’s time,” she said.

“I’m leaving because with such a privileged role comes responsibility. The responsibility of knowing when you are the right person to lead and when you are not. I know what this job requires. And I know I don’t have enough left in the tank to do it justice. It’s that simple,” she said.

Her term as prime minister will end no later than February 7, but she will continue as an MP until the election later this year.

“I am human, politicians are human. We give everything we can for as long as we can. And then it’s time. And for me, it’s about time,” she said. Ardern said that she reflected over the summer break whether she had the energy to continue in the role and concluded that she did not.

Ardern became the world’s youngest head of government when she was elected prime minister in 2017 at the age of 37. She has led New Zealand through the Covid-19 pandemic and major disasters including the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch and the White Island volcanic eruption.

“These have been the most rewarding five and a half years of my life. But it also had its challenges – between an agenda focused on housing, child poverty and climate change, we find a … domestic terror event, a major natural disaster, a global pandemic and an economic crisis,” she said.

Asked how she would like New Zealanders to remember her leadership, Ardern said “as someone who has always tried to be kind”.

“I hope to leave New Zealanders with the belief that you can be kind yet strong, empathetic yet decisive, optimistic yet focused. And that you can be your own kind of leader – the one who knows when it’s time to go,” Ardern said.

In the past year, Ardern has faced a significant increase in threats of violence, particularly from conspiracy theorists and anti-vaccine groups enraged by the country’s vaccine mandates and Covid-19 lockdowns. She said, however, that the increased risk associated with the job was not behind her decision to step down.

“I don’t want to leave the impression that the adversity you face in politics is why people leave. Yes, it has an impact. We are human after all, but that was not the basis of my decision,” she said.

Ardern said he had no future plans beyond spending more time with his family.

She thanked her partner, Clarke Gayford, and daughter Neve, whom she gave birth to while in office, as “the biggest sacrificers of all of us.”

“To Neve: Mum is looking forward to being there when you start school this year. And to Clarke – we are finally getting married.”

Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford leave after she announces her resignation in Napier, New Zealand.
Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford hang out after she announces her resignation in Napier, New Zealand, on Thursday. Photography: Kerry Marshall/Getty Images

The prime minister’s announcement comes as New Zealand enters a tight election year, with the poll date announced for October 14. Polls in recent months have placed the Ardern-led Labor Party slightly behind the National opposition.

Ardern said his decline in the polls was not behind his decision to leave.

“I’m not leaving because I believe we can’t win the election, but because I believe we can and will, and we need a new set of shoulders for that challenge,” she said.

Who will replace Ardern remains unclear: Deputy Leader and Chancellor of the Exchequer Grant Robertson, who would be considered a favorite for the job, said on Thursday he would not be running for the job. In a statement, he said: “I am not running for leadership of the Labor Party.”

The Labor Caucus now has seven days to find out if a new candidate holds more than two-thirds of support within the caucus to become the new leader and prime minister. A caucus vote for a new leader will take place in three days, on January 22nd. If no one reaches that minimum level of support, the leadership race will go to wider Labor members.

National Opposition Leader Christopher Luxon said Ardern “has made a significant contribution to New Zealand in what is difficult and demanding work”, calling her “New Zealand’s strong ambassador on the world stage”.

“Her leadership after the Christchurch terrorist attacks was both strong and compassionate and is something she can be proud of,” he said.

Jacinda Ardern has shown the world how to lead with intellect and strength.

She has demonstrated that empathy and insight are powerful leadership qualities.

Jacinda has been a fierce advocate for New Zealand, an inspiration to so many and a great friend to me.

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) January 19, 2023


Jacinda Ardern showed the world how to lead with intellect and strength.

She demonstrated that empathy and insight are powerful leadership qualities.

Jacinda has been a fierce supporter of New Zealand, an inspiration to many and a great friend to me.

—Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) January 19, 2023

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese paid tribute to Ardern, saying she “showed the world how to lead with intellect and strength”.

“She demonstrated that empathy and insight are powerful leadership qualities,” he said.