Sydney, Australia, Jan 20 (EFE).- New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday that she “slept well for the first time in a long time,” a day after her shock announcement that she will step down on Feb. 7.
“I of course feel sad but also I do have a sense of relief,” Ardern told reporters at the airport in Napier, where her Labour Party held its annual caucus meeting and from where she made the announcement on Thursday.
The leader said that she was “deeply humbled” by the national and global response to her resignation.
“To have those messages of gratitude has been really moving for me and my family,” said Ardern, who became the world’s youngest head of state when she was elected to the top job at the age of 37 in 2017.
Five and a half years later, Ardern admitted she “no longer had enough in the tank to do it justice.”
“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,” Ardern, 42, told party members.
“I am human. Politicians are human. We give all that we can, for as long as we can, and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time,” Ardern said, adding she had no future plans beyond seeing her 4-year-old daughter, Neve start school and finally marrying her partner Clarke Gayford. Their wedding was called off last year due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“All I know is that whatever I do, I will try and find ways to keep working for New Zealand and that I am looking forward to spending time with my family again – arguably, they are the ones that have sacrificed the most out of all of us.”
Ardern also announced that New Zealand’s next general election will be held on Oct. 14.
On Sunday, the Labour Party will vote for a new prime minister, but Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, who would have been mostly likely front runner, has said he will not vie for the position.
Ardern’s stepping down comes as recent polls put center-left Labour slightly behind the center-right opposition National Party.
In 2020, she was re-elected in a historic landslide victory that enabled the Labour Party to govern alone, the first time a party had done so since the electoral reform of 1996. EFE