Published January 20, 2023
Jacinda Ardern’s announcement that she would resign as New Zealand’s prime minister and leave Parliament might have surprised her many fans globally. But a closer look at the country’s politics shows that she likely made the wise decision to get on with her life before the voters kicked her out.
Ardern burst onto the political scene in 2017 when she took over leadership of her Labour Party just months before the next election. Labour had been trailing the governing center-right National Party by about 20 points, but the charismatic 37-year-old captivated the nation, and “Jacindamania” pushed her party upward. Labour finished second in the election, and she outmaneuvered the Nationals to form a three-party coalition government with the Greens and the populist New Zealand First party.
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Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.
Image from Ministry of Justice of New Zealand on Wikimedia via Creative Commons 4.0