New Zealand: Meet the leaders likely to replace Jacinda Ardern
New Zealand's Labour Party is prompted to look for a new leader to assume the prime ministership after outgoing PM Jacinda Ardern announced on Thursday that she would step down from the post by February 7 and not seek re-election. The leaders being touted as potential candidates for the top post are Labour MPs Chris Hipkins, Kiri Allan, Michael Wood, and Nanaia Mahuta.
Why does this story matter?
- Currently, it's the sixth Labour Party government in New Zealand. Ardern was elected as PM in 2017, and she returned to power in 2020 following a landslide electoral victory, the party's biggest in half a century.
- On Thursday, Ardern quit, saying that she no longer has "enough in the tank" to lead the country.
- Notably, recent opinion polls showed her domestic popularity had declined.
Labour Party votes on Sunday
The Labour Party will vote for its new leader on Sunday, who will remain as the PM until the general election in October. Ardern declared she won't back any candidate while Deputy PM Grant Robertson said he won't contest the position. If no candidate manages to receive the support of two-thirds of the Labour caucus, the contest will go to the wider membership.
Chris Hipkins became a household name for handling COVID-19
Chris Hipkins (44) is the minister for education and leader of the House of Representatives. He was first elected to parliament for the Labour Party in 2008 and became a household name after he was appointed as the minister for COVID-19 in November 2020. His handling of the crisis was lauded globally as the country remained virus-free for the first half of 2021.
Kiri Allan could be the country's first openly gay leader
Kiri Allan (39) is presently the minister of justice. If elected as PM, she will be the country's first premier of Maori descent and also the first openly gay leader. Before being elected to parliament in 2017, she worked as a manager in the agriculture industry and was deeply involved in the development of new kiwi fruits. She has practiced commercial and public law.
Michael Wood's portfolio currently includes transportation, workplace safety, immigration
Michael Wood (42) has risen up the ranks in the Labour Party since he entered parliament in 2016 after a landslide victory in the bypoll. After Ardern retained power in 2020, he was appointed minister of transportation and workplace safety. Following a mid-2022 cabinet reshuffle, he was also appointed as immigration minister. Earlier, he worked at the finance sector union.
Nanaia Mahuta emerged as foreign minister, and strong Maori voice
Nanaia Mahuta (52) is a veteran parliamentarian of 26 years and she became the first woman foreign minister after the 2020 election victory. She advocated a diplomatic middle ground for Pacific countries caught between the US and China. She is the daughter of Sir Robert Mahuta, the late Maori queen's adopted brother. She introduced legislation to change the ownership structure of the water infrastructure.