An emotional Jacinda Ardern announced she “has nothing left in the tank” and is standing down as New Zealand’s Prime Minister.
The 42 year old revealed she will resign next month and will not take part in this year’s General Elections.
A tearful Ardern told a press pack in the coastal city of Napier yesterday that Tuesday, February 7 will be her last day in office, reported Aljazeera.
“I am not leaving because it was hard. Had that been the case I probably would have departed two months into the job.
“I am leaving because with such a privileged role, comes responsibility, the responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead and also when you are not. I know what this job takes and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It is that simple.
“I am human, politicians are human. We give all that we can for as long as we can. And then it’s time. And for me, it’s time.”
At the age of 37, Ardern became the youngest female head of government in the world when she was elected as the prime minister of New Zealand in 2017.
During her tenure, she successfully navigated the country through challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, and the White Island volcanic eruption.
“This has been the most fulfilling five and a half years of my life. But it’s also had its challenges – amongst an agenda focused on housing, child poverty, and climate change, we encountered a domestic terror event, a major natural disaster, a global pandemic, and an economic crisis.”
Asked how she would like her country’s electorate to remember her leadership, Ardern said…
“As someone who always tried to be kind.”
“I hope I leave New Zealanders with a 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 go.”
Over the past year, Ardern has experienced a rise in threats of violence, primarily from anti-vaccine groups and conspiracy theorists who were incensed by New Zealand’s vaccine mandates and Covid lockdowns. Despite this, she has stated that the increased risk associated with the job was not a factor in her decision to step down.
“I don’t want to leave the impression that the adversity you face in politics is the reason that people exit. Yes, it does have an impact. We are humans after all, but that was not the basis of my decision.”
Ardern said she had no future plans, other than to spend more time with her family. She expressed her gratitude to her partner, Clarke Gayford, and daughter Neve, who she had given birth to while holding office, for being the ones who had sacrificed the most during her tenure.
“To Neve: mum is looking forward to being there when you start school this year. And to Clarke – let’s finally get married.”
Ardern’s announcement comes as New Zealand is entering a highly contested election year, with the vote set for October 14.
Recent polls have placed Arden’s Labour Party slightly behind the opposition National Party. However, Ardern stated that her declining numbers in the polls were not the reason for her decision to step down.
“I’m not leaving because I believe we can’t win the election, but because I believe we can and will, and we need a fresh set of shoulders for that challenge.”
Unlike insurrectionists Trump & Bolzanaro…
Jacinda Arden steps down w grace dignity & elegance.
A remarkable leader who led with intellect, empathy, & strength… a fierce advocate for New Zealand’s inclusive democracy, thus inspiriting future generations.pic.twitter.com/C1NRVM9UjN
— Rula Jebreal (@rulajebreal) January 19, 2023