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'Not Enough in the Tank': New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern Announces Resignation

Speaking to reporters in Napier, a visibly emotional Ardern said that she would leave the office by 7 February.

Updated
World
3 min read

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday, 19 January, announced that she will step down as the top official in February, and called the country's next general elections for 14 October.

Speaking to reporters in Napier, a visibly emotional Ardern said that she would leave office by 7 February.

What did she say? “I am entering now my sixth year in office, and for each of those years, I have given my absolute all,” Ardern said.

"I am 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 is that simple."
Jacinda Ardern
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The backdrop: Ardern's political camp, the Labour Party won a landslide electoral victory two years ago, but as per latest local polls, the party is behind its conservative rivals.

2020 was also the first time a leader achieved an absolute majority since New Zealand adopted a proportional voting system in 1996.

What next? It is not immediately clear who will take the seat of PM until next month. MPs from Ardern's Labour Party will meet on Sunday to elect a new prime minister.

More from her resignation speech:

  • "I am entering now my sixth year in office. And for each of those years, I have given my absolute all. I believe that leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have, but also one of the more challenging. You cannot, and should not do it unless you have a full tank, plus, a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges. This summer, I had hoped to find a way to prepare for not just another year, but another term – because that is what this year requires. I have not been able to do that."

  • "And so today, I am announcing that I will not be seeking re-election and that my term as prime minister will conclude no later than the 7th of February. This has been the most fulfilling five and a half years of my life."

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  • "I am 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 is that simple."

  • "I know there will be much discussion in the aftermath of this decision as to what the so-called “real” reason was. I can tell you, that what I am sharing today is it. The only interesting angle you will find is that after going on six years of some big challenges, that I am human. Politicians are human. We give all that we can, for as long as we can, and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time."

  • "For my part, I want to finish with a simple thank you to New Zealanders for giving me this opportunity to serve, and to take on what has and will always be the greatest role in my life. I hope in return I leave behind a belief that you can be kind, but strong. Empathetic, but decisive. Optimistic, but focused. That you can be your own kind of leader – one that knows when it’s time to go."

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Topics:  new zealand   Jacinda Ardern 

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