Jacinda Ardern to step down as New Zealand’s prime minister | Politics News

An emotional Ardern says February 7 will be her last day in office and that she will not seek re-election this year.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she will resign next month and will not contest this year’s general elections.

Fighting back tears, Ardern told reporters in Napier on Thursday that February 7 will be her last day in office.

“I am not leaving because it was hard. Had that been the case I probably would have departed two months into the job,” she 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,” she said.

Ardern, who became prime minister in a coalition government in 2017, looked set to face a tough election campaign this year.

While her liberal Labour Party won re-election two years ago in a landslide of historic proportions, recent polls have put her party behind its conservative rivals.

She was lauded globally for her country’s initial handling of the coronavirus pandemic after New Zealand managed for months to stop the virus at its borders.

But New Zealand abandoned its zero-tolerance strategy as new variants emerged and once vaccines became available.

Ardern faced tougher criticism at home that the strategy was too strict.

Ardern in December announced that a Royal Commission of Inquiry would look into whether the government made the right decisions in battling COVID-19 and how it can better prepare for future pandemics. Its report is due next year.

Ardern said on Thursday that a general election would be held on October 14.

She said a vote to elect the next Labour leader would be held on Sunday and that she believed the party would win the poll.

New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, who also serves as finance minister, said in a statement he would not seek to stand as the next Labour leader.

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