News   /   More

Chris Hipkins set to replace Jacinda Ardern as New Zealand PM

Chris Hipkins speaks to members of the media, after being confirmed as the only nomination to replace Jacinda Ardern as leader of the Labour Party, outside New Zealand's parliament in Wellington, New Zealand January 21 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

New Zealand’s Education Minister Chris Hipkins is set to replace Jacinda Ardern as the island country's prime minister after emerging as the only candidate to lead the ruling Labour Party.

A Labour Party’s 64 lawmakers meeting, to be held on Sunday in Caucus, is expected to confirm Hipkins as the new leader, after the shocking resignation announcement earlier this week from Ardern, who stated that she did not have "enough in the tank" to lead.

If confirmed, Hipkins will be prime minister until the end of the Labour party's legal term.

"I think we're an incredibly strong team," Hipkins told a news conference after the party announced him as the sole candidate.

"We've gone through this process with unity, and we'll continue to do that. I'm feeling really fortunate to be working with such an amazing group of people who have a real commitment to the service of the people of New Zealand," he was quoted as saying.

Hipkins, who was first elected to parliament in 2008, was appointed as the COVID response minister in November 2020 and played a significant role in New Zealand's response to the pandemic.

Also known as "Chippy", Hipkins built a reputation for competence in tackling COVID-19 and was a troubleshooter for Ardern when other cabinet ministers were struggling, and thus became a household name for fronting the government's response to the pandemic.

Currently, he is serving as the minister for police, education, and public service, as well as the leader of the House.

A public poll conducted by HorizonPoll clearly states that Hipkins was the most popular potential candidate for premiership among voters, with the backing of 26 percent of those surveyed.

The New Zealand Green Party, Labour's traditional coalition partner, said in a statement they were looking forward to working with Hipkins.

"Chris will make an excellent Prime Minister, and we look forward to continuing our work together, for the rest of this term and the next," said Green Party co-leader James Shaw.

Ardern, who at 37 became the youngest female head of government in the world when she took office in 2017, hinted at her reasons for her decision.

She stated that leading the country during "crisis" had been difficult - with the Covid pandemic, Christchurch mosque shootings, and White Island volcanic eruption taking place during her premiership.

Many manifested her statements negatively and considered that the leader was "running away before getting thrown out".

A general election will be held on Oct. 14, with some opinion polls showing Labour trailing the opposition New Zealand National Party.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku