New Zealand’s PM announced her resignation

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, the youngest female head of government in the world, announced she will resign no later than 7 February.

Ardern, the leader of the Labour Party, took office in October 2017 and has gained international attention for her progressive policies and leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I am not leaving because it was hard. Had that been the case I probably would have departed two months into the job. 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. It’s that simple,” she said fighting back tears at the party’s annual meeting on Thursday.

About her time in office, the 42-year-old said: “This has been the most fulfilling five and a half years of my life. But it’s also had its challenges – amongst an agenda focused on housing, child poverty and climate change, we encountered a … domestic terror event, a major natural disaster, a global pandemic, and an economic crisis.”

The decision was surprising as Ardern still ranks New Zealand’s preferred prime minister in the polls, and her party prepares for the general election in October. “I’m not leaving because I believe we can’t win the election, but because I believe we can and will, and we need a fresh set of shoulders for that challenge,” she said.

Asked how she would like New Zealanders to remember her leadership, Ardern said “as someone who always tried to be kind. 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.”