New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is resigning after serving just over five years in the role.
Ardern made the announcement in a Thursday press conference during the New Zealand Labour Party’s annual caucus meeting. Ardern said her term as prime minister no later than February 7, but possibly sooner if someone in the Labour Party is able to garner at least two thirds of the party’s support to succeed her.
Her resignation plans come before the New Zealand general elections in October.
The 42-year-old prime minister said she had planned over the summer to continue working as prime minister for another two years, but said she came to the realization that “I no longer have enough in the tank” to continue as prime minister.
In her speech announcing her departure, Ardern touted her record on in response to Covid-19 and the Christchurch shooting, as well as “a major natural disaster, a global pandemic, and an economic crisis.”
Ardern assumed office in October of 2017. She was New Zealand’s third female prime minster. At 37 years and 92 days old at the start of her term, she was also the second youngest prime minister in the country’s history.
Ardern gave birth within her first year in office, making her only the second world leader ever to do so.
On March 15, 2019, a man by the name of Brenton Harrison Tarrant carried out mass shootings at a pair of Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 people and injuring 49 more. Less than a month after that mass shooting, the New Zealand parliament passed a law that banned most semiautomatic weapons, firearm magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, pump action shotguns capable of accepting detachable magazines and tube-fed pump actions capable of holding more than five rounds. The law passed with Ardern’s support.
After the global outbreak of Covid-19, Ardern imposed strict lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus. Those lockdowns initially saw international praise, but Ardern and the Labour Party have gradually sunk in national political polls.
Ardern’s government has been the subject of protests over lockdowns as well as rising crime rates.
Ardern was also the subject of a recent controversy for referring to opposition leader David Seymour an “arrogant prick” in a hot mic moment. Ardern and Seymour ultimately made peace over the controversial exchange by auctioning off a signed copy of the parliamentary record of the exchange for charity.
“I am not leaving because it was hard. If that was the case, I probably would have departed two months in the job,” Ardern said in her remarks on Thursday.
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