New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern to resign as prime minister in February

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will step down as leader on Feb. 7 and the country will hold an election on Oct. 14, she abruptly announced on Thursday lunchtime NZ time.

Why it matters: Ardern rose to international prominence for her response to the country’s worst mass shooting, the terrorist attack on two Christchurch mosques in 2019, after which she led Parliament in passing sweeping gun control measures. She was also praised for her leadership during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yes, but: Ardern has consistently remained the country’s preferred prime minister in polling against National leader Christopher Luxon.

What she’s saying: “Being prime minister has been the greatest honour of my life and I want to thank New Zealanders for the enormous privilege of leading the country for the last five and a half years,” said Ardern, who confirmed she would not seek re-election.

  • “With holding such a privileged role comes responsibility, including the responsibility to know when you’re the right person to lead, and also when you’re not,” she added.

“I have given my absolute all to being prime minister but it has also taken a lot out of me. You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges that inevitably come along. Having reflected over summer I know I no longer have that bit extra in the tank to do the job justice. It’s that simple.”

— New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talking to reporters

What’s next: The Labour caucus will vote for a new leader on Jan. 22.

Editor’s note: This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

Read More: New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern to resign as prime minister in February

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