Jacinda Ardern has declared she would resign as prime minister of New Zealand before this year’s election, citing a lack of “fuel” for leadership.
Ms. Ardern became emotional as she described how six “difficult” years on the job had affected her.
On Sunday, Labour Party MPs will vote on her successor.
Polls show that the party will have a tough time winning re-election on October 14th, prompting the party’s shocking declaration.
Ms. Ardern, 42, said that she had contemplated her future over the summer vacation, hoping to find the motivation and stamina to continue in the position.
She told reporters on Thursday, “Unfortunately, I haven’t, and it would be a disservice to New Zealand if I continued.”
Ms. Ardern will resign by February 7th. If no potential replacement receives the backing of two-thirds of the party room, the lay membership of Labour will vote.
In 2017, at the age of 37, Ms. Ardern became the youngest female leader of the government in the world when she was elected prime minister.
A year later, she became the second elected global leader to give birth while in office, after Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan in 1990.
She led New Zealand during the Covid-19 outbreak and recession that followed, the Christchurch mosque massacres, and the White Island volcano eruption.
The previous five and a half years, according to Ms. Ardern, have been the “most satisfying” of her life, but managing the nation amid a “crisis” has been challenging.
Chris Luxon, head of the National Party, was among those who commended Ardern “for her service to New Zealand.”
The opposition’s leader stated on Twitter, “She has given her all to this tremendously hard job.”
Anthony Albanese, the prime minister of Australia, commended Ms. Ardern as a leader with intelligence, strength, and compassion.
He stated, “Jacinda has been a fiery champion for New Zealand, an inspiration to many many, and a wonderful friend.”
Justin Trudeau, the leader of Canada, said that she had made an “incalculable” contribution to the globe.
However, although Ms. Ardern was often seen as a political star internationally, public opinion surveys indicate that she is becoming more unpopular at home.
She led the Labour Party to a resounding win in the 2020 election by capitalizing on her government’s swift reaction to the epidemic.
However, according to the most recent opinion surveys, her popularity is at its lowest level since she was elected, and her party’s performance is equally unpopular.
In 2022, Ms. Ardern explained to the BBC that her dwindling popularity was the cost her administration paid to protect the populace from Covid-19.
However, she has also been saddled with a problem with the cost of living, national anxieties about crime, and a backlog of political promises made during the epidemic but not yet fulfilled.
Responses to her declaration have varied. One resident of her own Auckland constituency told the New Zealand Herald that Ms. Ardern was “running away before being kicked out,” blaming her for the rise in crime and the increase in the cost of living.
Others, such as Max Tweedie of Auckland Pride, consider her “one of the finest prime ministers in New Zealand’s history.”
Sam Neill, a New Zealand actor, said that Ms. Ardern had endured “disgraceful” abuse at the hands of “bullies” and “misogynists.”
“She deserved so much better,” tweeted the Jurassic Park actor.
However, Ms. Ardern emphasized that she would not quit because she and her party are unpopular.
“I’m not departing because I don’t feel we can win the election, but because I do believe we can and will, and we need new shoulders to take on this responsibility.”
However, several members of parliament, including deputy leader Grant Robertson, have ruled themselves out of contention.
Ms. Ardern was especially pleased with her government’s accomplishments in the areas of climate change, social housing, and decreasing child poverty.
She said, however, that she hoped her legacy in New Zealand would be as “someone who always tried to be compassionate.”