The highs and lows of Jacinda Ardern’s time as New Zealand Prime Minister

New Zealand‘s Jacinda Ardern has announced her shock resignation just months before she is due to run for a third term, saying she no longer has the energy or the inspiration to continue as the country’s prime minister.
Since becoming the world’s youngest female head of government in October 2017, aged 37, Arden became one of the most admired politicians on the planet. But after she was praised for guiding New Zealand through the Covid-19 crisis, support for her Labor party dwindled and her approval rating plummeted. The effort required to win a third term was not something she was willing to undertake.
Here are some of Ardern’s greatest accomplishments and some of the low points of his years in office:
The hights…
Response to the Christchurch terrorist attack
On March 15, 2019, a lone gunman attacked Muslim worshipers at two mosques in the southern city of Christchurch, killing 51 people, while broadcasting the attack live on social media. Within days of the attack, Ardern had decided to ban semi-automatic weapons and military-style assault rifles and implemented a nationwide gun buy-back. His swift actions were regularly compared to the United States, where a series of mass shootings failed to spur political action.
Ardern has also joined French President Emmanuel Macron in urging big tech companies to curb the promotion of violent extremism online – a pledge known as the Christchurch Call. The Prime Minister has received praise from the international community for her empathy in the aftermath of the attacks.
Keeping New Zealand safe as Covid-19 breaks out
At the start of the pandemic, Ardern moved quickly to effectively close New Zealand’s borders and impose one of the toughest lockdowns in the world, essentially shutting down the economy even though the country had barely recorded 200 cases.
It was a move that paid off – the country saw few virus deaths in the first two years of the pandemic and New Zealand was, for a time, one of the few places in the world without community transmission of the virus. It also paid political dividends for Ardern, helping him win a majority in the 2020 general election – the first absolute majority in parliament since proportional representation was introduced in 1996.
Gain status on the world stage
Ardern shot to fame outside of New Zealand in 2017 as the world’s youngest female head of government and the first world leader to bring her baby to the United Nations General Assembly. She was celebrated abroad as a compassionate leader and star of the political left. As a small country at the end of the world, it brought New Zealand the recognition it craved. Yet her fame abroad has not always won her praise at home.
“I would say she is New Zealand’s most popular prime minister overseas,” political analyst Bryce Edwards said in 2019.
The socks
It is covid again
After his initial success in keeping the virus at bay, Ardern and his government sometimes floundered. There have been missteps in the management of isolation facilities, where people returning to New Zealand have been quarantined, and with the rollout of vaccines. One of the most harmed groups was the tens of thousands of Kiwis stranded overseas who were unable to return to New Zealand due to a lack of places to isolate.
The government’s handling of Covid vaccine mandates led to societal divisions that New Zealanders were largely unfamiliar with. The most extreme protest was a three-week anti-vaccine protest on the grounds of Parliament in Wellington last year, which ended in violent clashes with police and fires on the lawn.
Failing to close the inequality gap
Ardern came to power in 2017 promising to tackle growing inequality and close the gap between rich and poor. But during his first term, his ruling coalition scrapped plans to tax capital gains, fearing it was too politically risky, while a program to build tens of thousands of affordable homes was well below targets.
His second term as Prime Minister was largely dominated by Covid, leaving less room for domestic reforms, while the cost of living crisis soared globally.
Anarchy and disorder
A wave of ram raids across the country – where people use stolen cars to force their way into closed stores late at night to steal goods – has alarmed the public and added weight to the principal’s continued criticism opposition national party that Ardern’s government is soft on crime.
The fatal stabbing of a convenience store owner in a raid in November last year added to the fury, while the National Party’s promise of tougher penalties proved popular with Readership.

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