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Jacinda Ardern announcing her resignation at a press conference
Jacinda Ardern has said she is resiging as prime ministerImage: Warren Buckland/dpa/picture alliance
PoliticsNew Zealand

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern to step down in February

January 19, 2023

The shock decision comes after leading New Zealand through the coronavirus pandemic.


New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Thursday that she would be stepping down from her role by February 7 after five and a half years, New Zealand media reported.

"For me it's time," she told members of her Labour Party, making clear that there was no secret scandal behind her resignation. "I just don't have enough in the tank for another four years."

Ardern was visibly upset as she made her announcement in a televised press conference.

"This has been the most fulfilling five and a half years of my life," local news site NZ Herald reported her as saying.

"I am leaving because with such a privileged job comes a big responsibility. The responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead — and also when you’re not," she said.

Stepping down ahead of general election

The prime minister also announced that a general election would take place on October 14.

"While I won’t be contesting the election, I know the issues that impact New Zealanders most will remain the focus of the government through this year and into the election," Ardern said.

Ardern's Labour Party will begin looking for a successor with a caucus vote on Saturday.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, center, waves as she leaves Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand
Ardern was hailed around the world for her response to the Christchurch mosque shootingsImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/V. Thian

Public broadcaster Radio New Zealand reported that she plans to remain sitting as a member of parliament until the end of April to avoid a by-election, but has no plans for after that.

At only 37 years old at the time of her election to power in 2017, Ardern is one of the world's youngest female state leaders. She is also one of the few to give birth while in office.

Ardern led New Zealand during three years of the coronavirus pandemic. Her handling of the crisis garnered international praise with the country faring better than many others — although not without escaping criticism entirely.

She was also prime minister during one of the most violent episodes in New Zealand's recent history when a neo-Nazi killed 51 people in a shooting at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.

ab/rc (dpa, Reuters, AFP)