By Nick Perry
NEW Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, who was one of the first members of her generation elected as a national leader and became a global icon of the Left, said on Thursday she was leaving office after five and a half years.
Ardern was praised around the world for her handling of the nation’s worst-ever mass shooting and the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. But she was facing mounting political pressures at home and a level of vitriol from some that hadn’t been experienced by previous New Zealand leaders. Still, her announcement came as a shock throughout the nation.
Fighting back tears, Ardern told reporters in Napier that February 7 would be her last day as Prime Minister.
“I know what this job takes, and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It is that simple,” she said. Ardern became an inspiration to women around the world after first winning the top job in 2017 at the relatively young age of 37. She seemed to herald a new generation of leadership — she was on the verge of being a millennial, had spun some records as a part-time DJ, and wasn’t married like most politicians.
In 2018, Ardern became just the second world leader to give birth while holding office. That year, she brought her infant daughter to the floor of the UN General Assembly in New York.