Chris Hipkins ready to replace Jacinda Ardern as New Zealand Leader

Chris Hipkins, who served as New Zealand’s education and police minister, will become the country’s new prime minister next month after he was the only member of the ruling Labor Party to be nominated for the post. Party leaders.

Members of the Labor caucus will meet on Sunday in the New Zealand city of Napier, where they are currently taking part in a summer retreat, to endorse the nomination and confirm Mr Hipkins as new leader. of their party. At least 10 percent of the caucus must vote for Mr. Hipkins to confirm him.

His nomination comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unexpectedly resigned on Thursday, who has become a global liberal icon during her tenure.

“I believe leading a country is the most privileged job anyone can have, but also one of the more challenging,” Ms. Ardern said at a news conference announcing the decision. mine. “You can’t and shouldn’t do that unless you have a full tank of gas.”

Ms Ardern has said she will leave her post “no later than” on February 7, giving the party about two weeks to complete the transition.

Mr Hipkins, 44, became a household name in New Zealand during his daily televised briefings during the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic. First as health minister and then as minister in charge of response to Covid-19, he became the face of — and often the driving force behind the policies behind — the country’s approach. country to the virus, leading to several deaths.

But as the next leader of the Labor Party, he will face some major challenges when the country goes to the polls on October 14.

Voters, facing pocket strain like in many other parts of the world, are looking for solutions to severe inflation, the ongoing housing crisis and other problems. Other persistent social problems such as child poverty and crime. Polls show many voters believe the party has not given the answer on policy, with 38% backing the center-right Nationalist Party compared with Labor’s 33% last month.

Even as her party tumbles in the polls, Ms Ardern retains a certain star power that Mr Hipkins can hardly match. But Mr Hipkins, who has been a politician since 2008 and is a familiar face to many, will bring to the campaign the reputation of a leading debater and a wealthy policymaker. experience.

In the clash of the two Chrises, Mr Hipkins will face off against Christopher Luxon, leader of the National Party and former chief executive officer of New Zealand’s national airline, Air New Zealand.

Mr. Hipkins may struggle to break free of his association with pandemic policy, potentially a double-edged sword for voters who want to leave the worst of the past three years behind them.

During the early years of the pandemic, New Zealand’s lengthy lockdown and vaccination regulations were widespread. But as the rest of the world opened up, resentment began to grow, triggering a backlash among some.


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