New Zealand’s mercurial Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, a global figurehead of progressive politics, brought the curtains down on her eventful stint as the country’s administrative head announcing resignation.
The 42-year-old Ardern, whose popularity grew after she steered the country through natural disasters, pandemic, and its worst-ever terror attack said on Thursday she no longer had "enough in the tank" to seek re-election in the October polls.
Ardern told at a news meet that she would relinquish her position by February 7.
“The decision was my own,” Ardern said, adding “Leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have, but also the most challenging. You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges.”
A mercurial leader
Ardern, who became Prime Minister in 2017 at the age of 37, was New Zealand’s third female leader and one of the youngest leaders in the world.
She was re-elected for a second term in 2020 after a landslide victory. Her strict Covid policy saw New Zealand impose some of the world’s strictest border rules, separating families and shutting out almost all foreigners for almost two years.
During her interaction with the media, spoke at length about the arduous job she has taken while helming the country’s state of affairs and reflected on the various crises her government has faced.
She mentioned the pandemic and the 2019 Christchurch terror attack, which killed 51 people at two mosques.
Promoter of religious harmony
Once her hijab-wearing photograph became journalists' chimera and she became the symbol of religious tolerance. The attack was a defining moment of Ardern’s leadership, and her rapid response won widespread praise. She swiftly introduced gun law reforms. Her gesture endeared her the Muslim community.
“The only interesting angle that you will find is that after going on six years of some big challenges, I am human. Politicians are human,” she said.
Highlights of her tenure were legislation on climate change and child poverty. “I wouldn’t want these last five and a half years to simply be about the challenges. For me, it’s also been about the progress,” she said.
A rockstar politician
A former DJ, Ardern catapulted to fame with her eloquence and charisma, drawing mass rallies as young crowd would yell Jacindamania” during her election rallies.
In 2022, her popularity dipped and falling support base for her Labour Party.
On her future, Ardern said she has not planned anything concrete. She hinted at spending time with family members. “Arguably, they’re the ones that have sacrificed the most out of all of us,” said Ardern.