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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she would resign next month, ahead of an October election that promises to highlight the deepening political and economic challenges facing the country, the New York Times reported Thursday.
The progressive leader announced Thursday that she was stepping down Feb. 7 because she was unable to muster the energy for another term in office. She said she will remain a lawmaker until April.
Labour lawmakers will elect a new party leader in three days, she added.
Elected in 2017 and reelected by a landslide in 2020, Ardern has been considered a global icon for progressives. During her tenure, she gave birth while in office and even brought her daughter to the floor of the United Nations.
She garnered international attention in 2019 for her response to the massacre of 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch by a gunman professing anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments.
Soon after the attack, the outgoing leader imposed temporary restrictions on the purchase of guns, followed by the passage of a law a few weeks later that banned most semi-automatic weapons.
While she remained personally popular, her party has been facing major challenges in recent months over economic woes. House prices in the country fell 12 percent last year and borrowers are at risk of negative equity, as they grapple with the rising costs of living and spiking inflation.
A perceived increase in violent crime has also seen the party decline in the polls.
Analysts noted that her resignation came as a surprise to many New Zealanders, adding that her resignation could spell trouble for the Labour Party and its successor ahead of the elections.