New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Resigns


Sara Stewart, Contributor

On January 19th of 2023, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unexpectedly announced that she would be stepping down from her position as head of the government. In a press conference, she cited burnout as the reason for her sudden resignation, explaining, “I’m 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.” 

Ardern became the world’s youngest female leader after being elected prime minister in 2017 at the age of 37. She also gained attention, both good and bad, in 2018 when she became the second modern leader to have a baby while in office. Despite those who criticized this choice, she has been widely respected in New Zealand and around the world, especially for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, where she responded to the outbreak very early on with a lockdown, resulting in an almost entire eradication of the spread of the virus within the country. She is also recognized for how she dealt with other major events including the White Island volcanic eruption and the Christchurch terrorist attack on two mosques, in response to which she quickly implemented stricter gun laws. 

The news of her stepping down has garnered varied responses. As it was so sudden, some accused her of trying to get ahead of a nonexistent scandal, and others assumed it was a reaction to her dwindling popularity. She faced backlash for her continued enforcement of extensive COVID-19 restrictions and for the recession that followed the pandemic, and she has been accused of running an administration that is “soft on crime” amidst waves of robberies. She has endured an increasing number of personal threats, not to mention the misogynistic comments and criticism she has received throughout her time in office.

Regardless, she remains widely celebrated on the global stage for her leadership and accomplishments as prime minister, and a source of pride for New Zealand. Jacinda Ardern will be succeeded by Chris Hipkins, and will continue as a member of Parliament until April. She will undoubtedly leave behind a powerful legacy demonstrating the capability of female leaders which will serve as inspiration for women all over the world. 

“For all our firsts, I’m proud we’re now a nation where girls don’t consider politics or political leadership extraordinary. But I’ll be even more proud if that leadership of the future bucks the global trend and looks beyond borders, election cycles, and established ways of doing things. For them, I hope we’ll see the exceptional finally becoming the rule, that kindness and compassion can be powerful and strong, and that we’re willing to face the changes we have to face, while staring down the ones we don’t.”