New Zealand’s Ardern has many possibilities for a second act

New Zealand’s Ardern has many possibilities for a second act

When Jacinda Ardern announced this week that she was stepping down as prime minister of New Zealand, speculation began almost immediately about what she might do for the second act.

When she leaves, she will have 15 years experience as a legislator and five and a half years as a leader. She will also be only 42 years old. Observers say she has all kinds of career possibilities open to her.

Ardern said she was leaving her job because she “no longer has enough in the tank to do it properly” and has no immediate plans for her own future other than spending more time with her fiance and 4-year-old daughter age.

“I have to admit I slept well for the first time in a long time last night,” Ardern told reporters on Friday, adding that she felt both sadness and relief.

Stephen Hoadley, assistant professor of politics and international relations at the University of Auckland, said he could not imagine Ardern staying at home long-term, given her energy and skills.

“She’s got the ability, she’s got the ability, she’s got the profile, it’s acceptable to do a lot of things,” Hoadley said. But I would imagine by the end of this year she’ll be out of office and running on a whole new career.”

Hoadley cited the career of Helen Clark, another former prime minister of New Zealand who went on to become chief administrator at the UN, as she led the development program.

“Any number of United Nations organizations, or charitable, philanthropic, or other types of organizations could benefit from Jacinda,” Hoadley said.

“There are a lot of possibilities, and her profile is so high that I think she would have her choice.”

Climate Change Minister James Shaw, who first met Ardern in 2007 and remains friends, said he was shocked but not surprised when Ardern told him she planned to step down off.

“It’s been a very tough five years,” Shaw said.

On top of a busy legislative schedule, Shaw said, Ardern has had to steer the country through a series of crises, including mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques that left 51 people dead, a volcanic eruption that killed 22, and the coronavirus pandemic. .

On top of that, Ardern was also facing a growing number of threats, Shaw said, and a toxic, misogynistic online culture that has grown worse in recent years.

“What I’m hoping is that she can get some beach time with her family, uninterrupted, for a while,” Shaw said.

He said he believed Ardern when she said she did not yet have firm plans for the future.

“I think she could pretty much do whatever she wants from this point,” Shaw said.

“Jacinda is one of the most selfless, determined and public-spirited people I have ever met,” Shaw said.

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Read more about AP’s Asia-Pacific coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/asia-pacific

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