New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will step down next month because she no longer has “enough in the tank” to do the job justice, she said.
“I’m leaving because with such a privileged role comes responsibility: knowing when you’re the right person to lead and also when you’re not,” said Ardern, who heads the country’s Labor Party and won his first term 5 1/2 years ago.
Ardern, 42, said Thursday afternoon local time (7 p.m. ET Wednesday) that he would not seek re-election and planned to resign no later than February 7.
“This has been the most fulfilling five and a half years of my life, but it has also had its challenges,” he told reporters. “Between an agenda focused on housing, child poverty, and climate change, we find a major foray into biosecurity, a domestic terror event, a major natural disaster, a global pandemic, and an economic crisis.”
“The decisions that have had to be made have been continuous and have had weight,” he said.
The party has seven days to determine if a new leader has more than two-thirds of the support of the caucus, he said. A vote will be held on January 22.
If a new leader is selected, Ardern said he would step down soon after and a new prime minister would be sworn in. Otherwise, the vote will go to the broader party membership, he said.
Ardern said she plans to stay in parliament until April.
“Beyond that, I don’t have a plan, I don’t have any next steps,” he said. “All I know is that whatever I do, I will try to find ways to continue working for New Zealand.”
Ardern had faced a tough election campaign this year. His liberal Labor Party won re-election two years ago in a landslide of historic proportions, but recent polls have put his party behind its Conservative rivals.
She was lauded globally for her country’s early handling of the coronavirus pandemic after New Zealand managed for months to stem the virus at its borders. But his zero-tolerance strategy was abandoned once it was challenged by new variants and vaccines became available.
He faced harsher criticism at home that the strategy was too strict.
Ardern announced in December that a Royal Commission of Inquiry would investigate whether the government made the right decisions in the fight against Covid-19 and how it can best prepare for future pandemics. Your report is due next year.