Jacinda Ardern resigned as Prime Minister of New Zealand | Jacinda Ardern

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

At the party’s annual caucus meeting on Thursday, Ardern said there was “no longer enough left in the tank” to get the job done. “It’s about time,” she said.

“I’m leaving, because with such a privileged role comes responsibility.” The responsibility of knowing when you are the right person for leadership and also when you are not. I know what it takes to do this job. 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 on February 7 at the latest, but she will remain an MP until elections later this year.

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

Ardern became the youngest female head of government in the world when she was elected prime minister in 2017 at the age of 37. She 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 fulfilling five and a half years of my life.” But it also had its challenges – among programs focused on housing, child poverty and climate change, we encountered a … domestic terrorist 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 always tried to be kind”.

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

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

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

Ardern said she has no plans for the future, other than spending more time with her family.

She thanked her partner Clarke Gayford and daughter Neve, who she gave birth to while in office, as “the ones who sacrificed the most out of all of us.”

“To Neve: Mom is looking forward to being there when you start school this year.” And for Clark – let’s finally get married.”

Jacinda Ardern and partner Clark Gayford leave after she announced her resignation in Napier, New Zealand.
Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford are leaving after she announced her resignation in Napier, New Zealand, on Thursday. Photo: Kerri Marshall/Getty Images

The Prime Minister’s announcement comes as New Zealand enters a hard-fought election year, with the vote date set for October 14. Polls in recent months have put Ardern’s Labor Party narrowly behind the opposition National.

Ardern said her drop in the polls was not behind her 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 new shoulders for that challenge,” she said.

Who will replace Ardern, however, is not yet clear: Deputy Leader and Finance Minister Grant Robertson, who would be considered the favorite for the role, said on Thursday that he would not run for the position. In a statement he said “I am not standing to be a candidate for the leadership of the Labor Party”.

The caucus now has seven days to find out if the new candidate has more than two-thirds of support within the caucus to become the new leader and prime minister. The caucus for the new leader will be held in three days, on January 22. If no one reaches that threshold of support, the leadership contest will go to the wider Labor membership.

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

She demonstrated that empathy and insight are powerful leadership qualities.

Jacinda was a fierce advocate for 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 had “shown the world how to lead with intellect and strength”.

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

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