Wellington, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became a global icon A leftist and epitome of a new style of leadership, she said she would step down on Thursday.
Only 37 when she became leaderArdern was praised around the world for her response to the country’s worst-ever mass shooting and the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. They faced a level of violence never before experienced by New Zealand leaders.
Still, her announcement shocked five million people.
Holding back tears, Ardern told reporters in Napier that February 7 would be her last day as prime minister after five and a half years in office.
“I know what this job requires and I know there isn’t enough left in the tank to justify it. It’s that simple,” she said.
Her Labor MPs will vote for a new leader on Sunday.
Ardern inspired women around the world after taking the top spot for the first time in 2017. She was like a pioneer in a new generation of leadership. She was not married like most politicians.
In 2018, Ardern became the second elected world leader to give birth while in officeLater that year, she took her little daughter to the floor of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
She has won a victory for the center-left amid the global rise of right-wing populism, pushing legislation aimed at net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and overseeing a ban on offensive weapons. and kept the coronavirus out of New Zealand for 18 months. .
Her approach to the pandemic has angered US President Donald Trump.She said there was a COVID-19 pandemic and that “New Zealand is over. Everything is gone.”
‘Were those words offensive?’ Ardern said of Trump’s comments in interview With the Associated Press at the time.
Ardern faced one of her darkest days in March 2019 In New Zealand history, white supremacist gunmen stormed two mosques in Christchurch and massacred 51 devotees during Friday services.Ardern was widely praised for his empathy Towards survivors and subsequently New Zealand’s wider Muslim community.
Within weeks after the mosque shooting, Ardern moved to pass a new law banning the deadliest type of semi-automatic weapon.Subsequent buyback scheme Over 50,000 guns, including many AR-15 style rifles, were destroyed at the police-operated site.
Less than nine months after the shooting, she faced another tragedy when 22 tourists and guides died when White Island’s volcano erupted..
Ardern has been praised globally for her country’s first response to the pandemic after New Zealand contained the virus at its borders for several months.but she was forced to abandon her Its zero-tolerance strategy as more contagious variants spread and vaccines become widely available.
She has faced mounting outrage at home from those opposing coronavirus mandates and rules. Protests against mandatory vaccines that began on parliamentary grounds last year lasted for more than three weeks, with protesters pelting police with stones and setting tents and mattresses on fire. Because they were forced to leave. This year, Ardern canceled the annual barbecue she hosts due to her safety concerns.
Prime Minister Ardern announced last month that a broad Royal Commission of Inquiry would investigate whether the government made the right decisions in the fight against COVID-19 and how it could prepare for future pandemics. That report is due next year.
Many observers said sexism played a role in the anger directed at Ardern.
Actor Sam Neill tweeted, “Her treatment in recent months has been cumulative, disgraceful and embarrassing.” A great leader.”
But Ardern and her government also faced criticism that the idea was big but lacked execution. Concerned about the law, opponents said it was not focusing enough on crime and a sluggish economy.
Ardern explained that climate change is a big challenge for her generation. However, her policy met with skepticism and opposition, including from farmers who protested plans to tax cow burps. and other greenhouse gas emissions.
Ardern faced a grim prospect at the ballot box. Her centre-left Labor Party won its 2020 re-election by a historic margin.but recent polls show her party lagging behind its conservative rivals.
She said she plays a role that requires preparation to face the unexpected.
“But I didn’t quit because it was hard. If that were the case, I probably would have quit my job in two months,” Ardern said. It is your responsibility to know when you are the right person for leadership and when you are not.”
She said her time in the office was challenging but fulfilling.
“I’m entering my sixth year in office, and during that time, I’ve given my all,” she said.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Ardern “showed how to lead the world with intelligence and power”.
“She demonstrated that empathy and insight are powerful leadership qualities,” Albanese tweeted. “Jacinda is a staunch defender of New Zealand, she is an inspiration to many and a great friend to me.”
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris took to Twitter to call Ardern “a positive global leader who has inspired millions,” while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ardern’s longstanding friendship and ” Thank you for your empathetic, compassionate, strong and stable leadership.” .
Ardern planned an independent course in New Zealand.She tried to take a more diplomatic approach to China than to neighboring Australia, which has come into conflict with Beijing. In an interview with the AP last month, she said building ties with the smaller Pacific nation shouldn’t become a one-upmanship game with China.
New Zealand opposition leader Christopher Luxon said Mr Ardern had been a powerful ambassador for the country on the world stage. He said he remains keen to win this year’s general election to “provide a government that can get things done.”
Ardern announced that the vote would take place on October 14 and that he would remain in Congress until April. No special election is required to secure her seat, as she will leave Parliament within six months of her election.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson has announced that he will not contest the Labor leader, and will contest who will become prime minister from February until the election.
If no candidate receives at least two-thirds of the support from the caucuses when Labor MPs vote on Sunday, the leadership contest will go to the wider party. advised the party to choose.
Ardern said he didn’t have much time to think about his time in the role, but noted that there was a crisis with it.
“Leading a country in peacetime is one thing, and surviving a crisis is one thing. In many ways, I think it’s going to stick with me as the burden of responsibility grows and people become more vulnerable. “I was privileged to be with New Zealand during the crisis and they put their trust in me.”
Ayah Al-Umari, whose brother Hussein was killed in a Christchurch mosque attack, tweeted her “heartfelt thanks” to Ardern, saying her compassion and leadership on that tragic day was “a blessing to our journey of grief.” shed some light,” he said.
“I am shocked and mixed with sadness, but I am truly happy for her,” Al-Umari wrote.
Aside from family commitments to daughter Neve and fiancée Clark Gayford, Ardern said after leaving the office, her immediate plans are to said no.
Ardern said, “Mr. Neve, your mom is looking forward to seeing you start school this year. And to Clark, let’s finally get married.”
Associated Press reporter Rod McGurk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.
For AP’s Asia Pacific coverage, please visit https://apnews.com/hub/asia-pacific.