Passing the Torch
In a critical decision that has shocked the citizens of New Zealand and puzzled politicians around the globe, Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister of the last six years, has resigned from her position ahead of the impending fall election. Ardern, who was elected in 2017, became the youngest female world leader at the time, the essence of her rule unprecedented before it even began. She was elected again in 2020, and since then has remained in power, representing the country’s Labour Party, a liberal equivalent of the United States’ Democratic Party. Ardern’s political career has been distinguished by her inclination to approach each matter with intrigue and empathy, her connection to her people being her greatest asset during her time in office. Characterized at first by her vibrant youth, Ardern soon added to her international persona when she announced that she was pregnant only months into her term. A scintillating symbol of the “working mom”, Ardern virtually accrued global respect and admiration when she brought her newborn daughter, Neve, with her to the United Nations General Assembly in 2018. Her public appraisal continued as a result of her compassionate and effective response to the terrorist attacks that occurred at places of worship in NZ in March of 2019. She was additionally commended for the considerate and comprehensive measures of safety that she put in place following the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Criticisms toward Adrern’s time in office stemmed not from disdain towards the political values or ideas she promoted, but rather the fact that she was unable to follow through on taking sustainable action that would in fact allow those sentiments to become a tangible reality. In a public statement by Ardern, she relayed, “I believe that leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have, but also one of the more challenging. You cannot and should not do it unless you have a full tank plus a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges.” In her speech, she alluded to the fact that she felt she was unfit as an advantageous leader of her nation for another term and was compelled to step down in the hopes of finding another leader with the capacity to be more efficacious in policy than she. Despite her sorrow in leaving her beloved position as prime minister, Ardern has expressed her joy at being able to focus her energy going forward on her daughter and her partner. Chris Hipkins, the country’s most recent Minister of Education and Public Service, and former Minister of Health, reputable for the role he played in the COVID-19 pandemic, has taken over as prime minister for Ardern. With the general election only a few months away, time will tell how the political climate of New Zealand will continue to change and reveal the impact that the astonishing departure of Ardern will have on the Labour Party and the whole of the nation.
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