New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Thursday that she would not seek re-election and will be stepping down next month.
Ahearn made the shocking announcement at her Labor party‘s annual caucus meeting, saying she “no longer had enough in the tank” to do the job.
“I’m leaving, because with such a privileged role comes responsibility,” she said. “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. It’s that simple.”
Her resignation takes effect Feb. 7.
Ardern became prime minister in 2017 and led New Zealand through a period of major incidents, including the COVID-19 pandemic and an attack on two mosques in Christchurch in which 51 people were killed. During the pandemic, she imposed some of the strictest lockdown rules in the world.
In August 2021, the country was put on lockdown for at least three days after a single case of the coronavirus was found in one community.
In December, she was caught on a hot mic calling opposition leader David Seymour an “arrogant p—-” during an exchange in which Seymour asked if Ardern could “give an example of her making a mistake, apologizing for it properly and fixing it,” The Guardian reported.
Ardern replied by acknowledging the difficulties of her government’s “managed isolation” plan for COVID-19, but she told her deputy, Grant Robertson, that Seymour was “such an arrogant p—-” as she sat down — the microphones caught the comment.
She is the country’s youngest-ever leader.
“I hope I leave New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind, but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focused. And that you can be your own kind of leader – one who knows when it’s time to go,” she said, according to the Guardian.