Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand and an international leader in progressive politics, startled the nation on Thursday by announcing her impending resignation.
The 42-year-old, who steered the country through natural disasters, the Covid pandemic, and its worst-ever terror attack, said she no longer had “enough in the tank”.
“I am human. We give as much as we can for as long as we can and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time,” she said at a meeting of members of her Labour Party.
Less than three years after securing her second term in government by winning a landslide election, Ardern announced she would leave her position no later than February 7.
Since that “Jacindamania” high point in 2020, Ardern’s government has struggled, with rising inflation, an impending recession, and a resurgent conservative opposition hurting its support.
“I believe that leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have, but also one of the more challenging,” Ardern said.
“You cannot and should not do it unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges.”
For her compassionate handling of the 2019 Christchurch mosque tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of 51 Muslim worshipers and the injuries of an additional 40, Ardern received praise from all over the world.
Late that year, when the deadly White Island (also known as Whakaari) volcano erupted, she received plaudits for her decisive leadership.
She expressed pride in her government’s efforts to address child poverty, climate change, and housing affordability on Thursday.
“And we’ve done that while responding to some of the biggest threats to the health and economic wellbeing of our nation arguably since World War II,” Ardern said.
There was a sense that Ardern was more well-liked abroad than she was at home due to her appearances on the covers of British Vogue and Time magazines.
She was a major influence on the domestic scene at her height, but over the past year, her government’s popularity has been progressively declining.
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