In a tearful announcement, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that she is resigning from her position.
“I’d be doing a disservice to New Zealand if I continued,” she said while speaking Thursday local time at the Labour Party caucus retreat in Napier, New Zealand.
She will conclude her term no later than Feb. 7. The general election for her replacement is set for Oct. 14.
Ardern, who made history in 2017 when she became the world’s youngest female head of government at age 37, said she realized in recent months she no longer had the energy for the demanding job.
“I believe that leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have but also one of the more challenging,” she said during the announcement, according to New Zealand public broadcaster RNZ. “You cannot and should not do it unless you have a full tank plus a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges.”
Though Ardern has been a largely popular leader ― a phenomenon that commentators often called “Jacindamania” ― her approval rating has dipped in recent months as citizens raised concerns about the country’s high cost of living, rising interest rates and crime.
In one of her most internationally recognized policy movies, Ardern oversaw a nationwide ban on military-style semiautomatic assault rifles after a gunman killed 51 people and injured 40 others at two mosques in Christchurch, one of New Zealand’s largest cities. The move sparked comparisons to the U.S., where much more frequent mass shootings over several decades have barely prompted any action from Congress on gun control.
She also instituted some of the world’s strictest COVID-19 response policies, which were credited with maintaining the country’s low death rate from the disease.
Ardern also received praise for how she handled sexist and ageist comments and questions related to her position. In November, when a reporter asked if she and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin were meeting because they’re “similar in age and have got a lot of common stuff there” or if they actually planned to discuss policy, Ardern called out the double standard.
“My first question is, I wonder whether or not anyone ever asked Barack Obama or John Key if they met because they were of similar age,” she said, referring to a previous New Zealand leader.