New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden Announces Surprise Resignation

January 19, 2023


New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday she will step down from the post within the next three weeks, in a surprising move that ends a five-year tenure where Ardern steered her country through the pandemic and emerged as one of the world’s most recognizable heads of government.

Key Facts

Ardern, 42, appeared to cite burnout as a reason for the move, saying in an address: “I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice.”

She said she plans to leave office by February 7 at the latest.

New Zealand’s next general election is set for October 14—it is unclear who will stand as Labour Party leader following Ardern’s resignation.

Crucial Quote

“I am human, politicians are human. We give all that we can for as long as we can. And then it’s time,” she said at a news conference.

Key Background

Ardern at age 37 became the world’s youngest female head of government, with her unabashedly progressive political positions making her something of a feminist and Millennial icon. But her time in office was marked by numerous hardships, including the Covid-19 pandemic, the March 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings and the December 2019 White Island volcano eruption. Ardern earned international attention in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic by imposing strict border controls and quarantine rules, an approach that largely kept Covid-19 at bay in New Zealand while it ravaged the rest of the world, though the country later scrapped that approach as more infectious variants of the virus emerged. She won reelection in a landslide victory in 2020.

Further Reading

New Zealand P.M. Jacinda Ardern Is the Leader We've Been Waiting For (Forbes)

New Zealand’s Female PM Has Advice For American Voters After Her Historic Reelection (Forbes)

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