Friday, February 3, 2023

New Zealand: Ardern, the icon of many, will step down

WELLINGTON, New Zealand ( Associated Press) — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has become a global icon of the left and exemplified a new style of leadership, announced Thursday that she is stepping down.

When she became leader at just 37, Ardern was praised around the world for how she handled the worst mass shooting in the country’s history and the coronavirus. But he faced mounting political pressures at home and a level of infighting not experienced by previous New Zealand leaders.

Nevertheless, his announcement made an impact throughout the country of 5 million people.

Fighting back tears, Ardern told reporters in Napier that February 7 would be her last day as prime minister after five and a half years in office.

“I know what this job requires, and I know I don’t have enough in the tank now to do me justice. It’s that simple,” he said.

His Labor MPs will vote for a new leader on Sunday.

Ardern became an inspiration to women around the world after she took the top spot in 2017. It seemed like it was launching a new generation of leadership: She was on the verge of becoming a millennial, had broken a few records as a part-time DJ, and wasn’t married like most politicians.

In 2018, Ardern became the second world leader to give birth while in office. Later that year, he brought his young daughter to the podium of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

In March 2019, he faced one of the darkest days in New Zealand history when a white supremacist attacked two mosques in Christchurch, killing 51 worshippers. Weeks later, Ardern passed new legislation banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons.

Ardern was praised globally for her early response to the pandemic that was successful in preventing the virus from entering the country for months. But it was forced to abandon the zero-tolerance strategy as more infectious forms spread and with the advent of vaccines.

Ardern and her government also faced criticism that she was big on ideas but lacked in execution. Supporters worried that he had failed to deliver on promised gains on issues such as housing and reducing child poverty, while detractors said he was not paying enough attention to crime and the economy.

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Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia contributed to this report.

Nation World News Desk
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