No menu items!

Opinion: Controversial Jacinda Ardern, responsible for the brutal quarantine, resigns as Premier of New Zealand

(Opinion) Socialist Jacinda Ardern tearfully announced her surprise resignation as New Zealand prime minister, saying she no longer has “enough water in the tank” to lead her country.

Her resignation will take effect this Sunday if her party, the leftist Labor Party, can elect a replacement with two-thirds of the votes that same day. Otherwise, there will be a transition period and the party will be given time until February 7.

The 42-year-old Labor leader steps down shortly after winning re-election in 2020, having become New Zealand’s youngest prime minister.

“I’m human. Politicians are human. We give everything we can for as long as we can, and then it’s time. And for me, it’s time,” she said.

Despite being considered a reformer and having very high approval ratings when she came to power, mixing a leftist agenda on social issues and a liberal one on economics, the brutal shooting at the Christchurch mosque in 2019 would profoundly change her way of governing.

The president established a police state, similar to the one George Bush installed in the United States after the attack on the Twin Towers, and empowered various government agencies to spy on the population.

In addition, she launched a massive ban against the possession of firearms, and promoted a compulsive disarmament of the entire population.

These measures left the young official with a political image that did not fit her.

She went from young and reformist to dark and authoritarian; a figure that was only accentuated during the Covid pandemic in 2020.

New Zealand’s borders were closed on March 20, 2020 and did not reopen until mid-2022. Returning citizens had to endure several weeks of hotel quarantine, and foreigners who had tried to enter were stranded there for months.

The first quarantine began on March 26 and lasted until May 27, but it was much more flexible than that of other countries and the next ones that would come to the islands.

At that time, Ardern announced “a new way to deal with the pandemic” and released lockdowns nationwide.

Sure, it was an electoral win, as she would go on to win a landslide election victory on Oct. 17, 2020, getting 65 seats in New Zealand’s 120-member parliament and campaigning against lockdowns.

This position would last almost a year, until in August 2021, under the excuse of the appearance of the Delta variant, she reintroduced the quarantines even though a large part of the population was already vaccinated.

At the time, it banned all free movement in public spaces.

She even ordered police to arrest anyone walking down the street, which meant that New Zealanders could no longer buy food in supermarkets or takeaways as they could in Australia and other countries under strict quarantine.

Vaccination mandates and harsh lockdowns sparked months of mass protests outside Parliament in Wellington and elsewhere.

The quarantine lasted in various parts of the country until December 3, 2021, and the requirement to wear a muzzle or present the health passport lasted until September 2022.

Ms Ardern imposed some of the toughest Covid restrictions in the world, only allowing visitors in less than a year ago.

Protesters gather outside Parliament in Wellington on November 9, 2021, calling for an end to Covid restrictions and vaccine mandates in New Zealand.

“I am leaving because such a privileged job comes with great responsibility. The responsibility of knowing when you are the right person to lead, and also when you are not,” she said at the press conference this Wednesday night.

“I have given everything to be prime minister, but it has also cost me a lot. You can’t and shouldn’t do the job if you don’t have a full tank, plus a small reserve for the unplanned and unexpected challenges that inevitably arise,” she added, concluding:

“After reflecting over the summer, I know my tank is not full enough to do the job justice. It’s as simple as that.”

Asked what she would do next, Ardern said she hopes to spend time with her young daughter and eventually marry her fiancé Clarke Gayford after calling off her wedding.

The president was elected for the first time almost five years ago on 26 October 2017, and at 37, she was New Zealand’s youngest prime minister.

Before that, she was the youngest sitting MP in 2008, elected at age 28. During her press conference, she admitted: “I didn’t expect to be prime minister; it took me by surprise too.”

Lastly, she insisted that her decision to resign had nothing to do with her party trailing in the polls behind the National Party, her main rival in the upcoming elections.

During her resignation speech, Ardern announced that New Zealand’s next general election would take place on October 14, and she confirmed that she would not be a candidate.

She said she would remain a representative for Mt. Albert until April, so an early election would not be necessary.

The Labor Party, in power since 2017, used to have a comfortable lead over the conservative National Party in the polls.

Still, that gap narrowed during the pandemic, and in 2022 the Nationals began to appear ahead of Labor for the first time in half a decade.

The right began to lead in the polls at the same time that the Ardern government introduced a new round of restrictions as the country was hit with the Omicron Covid variant, especially when it was found to be a significantly less lethal variant.

New Zealanders realized that the quarantine was not scientifically based, as the 42-year-old prime minister insisted in all her press conferences, but rather ideological.

Her government never regained the poll lead, always staying slightly behind the nationals over the past year.

Recent polls agree that the National Party, along with the right-leaning ACT Party and the even more right-leaning New Zealand First Party, would easily win a majority if elections were held today.

With information from La Derecha Diario

Check out our other content