Cementing her popularity, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was re-elected with an overwhelming majority in the recently held general elections. The Labour Party won a thumping 49 percent of the votes, establishing a clear majority and paving a smooth road for the 40-year-old leader. The win is historic in many aspects, with the Labour Party securing its biggest victory in the last 50 years to form its first majority government since 1996.
Ardern’s compassionate and effective leadership during one of the most difficult phases of the country, the COVID-19 pandemic, was key to the Labour Party’s stunning and historic win. The pandemic has crippled the world’s leading economies such as the United States and the United Kingdom, while China has had its own set of difficulties as the epicentre of the virus. In such a challenging situation where most countries are struggling to recover from the pandemic, Ardern’s able administration and management of the crisis showcased her ability of taking quick and decisive actions needed to combat the fast-spreading virus.
Ardern’s early action against the pandemic by imposing restrictions and precautions in February itself not only displayed great foresight, but also made New Zealand the first nation to be free of COVID-19 at a time when other nations were seeing a spike in cases.
While nearly every country in the world imposed a lockdown to varying degrees, it was New Zealand’s early immigration control and full lockdown, coupled with fast detection and treatment of the coronavirus cases, which made it possible for the nation in August to boast 100 days of not having a fresh positive case.
While her COVID-19 response was in fact one of her most effective and widely appreciated administrative decisions, Ardern has many more political and administrative decisions to her credit which establish her image as a progressive and able leader.
Among some of her globally recognized decisions were the sweeping gun reforms that banned the use of most semi-automatic and assault weapons in New Zealand following the Christchurch shootings last year. Ardern not only managed the mass shooting issue with compassion and empathy by personally reaching out to the victim’s families, but she also took quick action to ensure that such shootings do not take place in the future.
The third woman to lead the island country, Ardern has also been extremely supportive of human rights and women empowerment. Some of her notable works are in the fields of children’s rights and climate change which are a sign of a leader who does not believe in fake promises and construed theories but recognizes the burning issues of a country and does meaningful work to resolve them.
Her feminine compassion balanced with the precision and decisiveness of an able administrator makes Ardern a truly unique global leader. Her victory far extends beyond the electoral polls as her leadership serves as an inspiration for women around the world who aspire to climb the political rungs to top leadership positions that were once only reserved for men.