New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern held back tears as she announced her resignation in an emotional press conference.
Ardern during the Labour Partys traditional January caucus meeting in Napier on Thursday said she hoped to find the energy and heart during the Christmas break to stay in the job, ‘but I have not been able to do that’, Dailymail reports.
‘Once I realised that I didn’t, I knew unfortunately there was not much alternative other than to hand over now,’ she said.
‘I am human. Politicians are human. We give all we can for as long as we can – and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time.
‘I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice.
‘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.
‘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.’
Her resignation comes into effect on Sunday if the Labour Party can elect her replacement in a two-thirds vote on that day, or on February 7 if the process is drawn out.
Ardern resigns at just 42 after becoming leader just over five years ago on October 26, 2017. She was New Zealand’s youngest-ever PM, and before that youngest sitting MP in 2008, elected aged 28.
During her press conference, she admitted: ‘I didn’t expect to be prime minister’.
She insisted her party trailing in the polls to the rival National Party ahead of the upcoming election had nothing to do with her decision to step down.
‘The Labour team are incredibly well placed to contest the next election. They are the most experienced team in the country and have shown they have the skills necessary to respond to whatever comes their way,’ she said.
‘I am not leaving because I believe we can’t win the election but because I believe we can and will. But we need a fresh set of shoulders for the challenges of both this year and the next three.
‘I know there will be much discussion in the aftermath of this decision as to what the so-called “real reason” was. I can tell you that what I’m sharing with you today is it.
‘The only interesting angle that you will find is that going on six years of some big challenges, I am human.’
The Labour caucus was surprised when she told them of her intention to resign on Thursday morning, but Ardern said they understood and did not begrudge her stepping down.
‘If I don’t have what it takes, I need to let someone else take on this job,’ she said.
During her resignation speech, Ms Ardern announced the next New Zealand general election will be held on October 14. She will stay Mt Albert MP until April so a byelection would not be needed.
Ms Ardern said there wasn’t one singular moment where she realised she needed to quit, but admitted the cumulative challenges had ‘taken their toll’ and the ‘sheer weight’ of making continual tough decisions during a series of national crises was ‘taxing’.