The world’s youngest female leader, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has announced she’ll be stepping down as the country’s head of state ahead of October’s election.
The 42-year-old Labour Party member led the left-wing group to power six years ago but isn’t inspired to seek reelection.
“I have given my absolute all to being prime minister,” Ardern said. “But, it has also taken a lot out of me.”
The outgoing Prime Minister garnered international attention and praise for her handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and for being an example of women in the workforce.
In 2018, Ardern became only the second world leader to give birth while in office.
Implementing strict lockdowns to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, Arden’s measures enabled New Zealand to return to “normal,” much sooner than countries with vocal anti-mandate sentiment and actions from their citizens.
In the face of tragedy, Prime Minister Ardern showed solidarity with New Zealand’s Muslim community in the aftermath of the antisemitic-driven Christ Church massacre in 2019 that left 22 people – including many tourists – dead.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese praised his peer in a tweet on Wednesday after news of Ardern’s resignation spread.
“Jacinda Ardern has shown the world how to lead with intellect and strength,” Albanese wrote. “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.”
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. pic.twitter.com/QJ64mNCJMI
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) January 19, 2023
After an overwhelming win in 2020, the Labour Party secured a parliamentary majority for the first time since the mid-1990s.
But their popularity waned as the rising costs of goods and services as the world struggles to regain economic stability in the aftermath of the pandemic became voters’ number one concern.
Recent polls show the right-wing Nationalist Party with a five-point lead over the Labour Party.
Arden is scheduled to leave parliament in April of this year.
She says spending time with her four-year-old daughter and partner, Clarke Gayford are at the top of her list of things to do.
“To Neve, mum is looking forward to being there when you start school this year,” she said in her resignation speech. “And to Clarke, let’s finally get married.”
Labour Party members are scheduled to vote on new leadership next week.
“I know what this job takes, and Know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It is that simple,” Ardern said.
Original reporting by Matthew Brockett at Bloomberg.
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