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(Image: Toby Morris)
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PoliticsJanuary 19, 2023

‘An inspiration’ or ‘good riddance’? The world reacts to Jacinda Ardern’s resignation

(Image: Toby Morris)
(Image: Toby Morris)

Jacinda Ardern’s resignation has sent ripples beyond our shores. 

The world has reacted to the news Jacinda Ardern will be soon be stepping down as prime minister, with leaders and international media quick to weigh in. Of course, given time differences, we can expect to hear more from global figures overnight – Joe Biden, for example, has so far remained silent.

Likely owing more to the time zone than our close political ties, Australian politicians were first out of the gate with reactions to Ardern’s resignation. Anthony Albanese, Australia’s prime minister, said in a tweet that Ardern showed the world how to lead with intellect and strength. The pair have met several times since Albanese’s election last year, most notably when they exchanged vinyl records.

Alongside an image of the pair snapped last year, Albanese added: “Jacinda has been a fierce advocate for New Zealand, an inspiration to so many and a great friend to me.”

Victorian premier Dan Andrews labelled Ardern a “real leader with so much to be proud of” in a Facebook post. “Enjoy having a bit more time with Clarke and Neve… and I hope we can share something from higher up the shelf sometime soon,” he wrote.

Other Australian leaders to send thanks include former Labor leader Bill Shorten, who said Ardern was “an inspiration” who had “reimagined New Zealand and its place in the world”. Senator Penny Wong also labelled Ardern an inspiration and added: “Jacinda brought strength, compassion and kindness to leadership, gaining the admiration of so many around the world.”

Further afield, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau thanked Ardern for providing “partnership and friendship” as well as for her strong and empathetic leadership. “The difference you have made is immeasurable. I’m wishing you and your family nothing but the best, my friend,” he tweeted.

The pair were regularly spotted together during world summits, most recently after Ardern hitched a ride on Trudeau’s flight from London to New York.

Meanwhile, media outlets around the world were also quick to report on Ardern’s decision to quit politics. Fox News shock jock Tucker Carlson sounded off in anticipated fashion, referring to Ardern as “the lady with big teeth” while a banner along the bottom of the screen labelled Ardern “Covid-crazed”.

Online, Fox News tenuously linked Ardern’s resignation to her “hot mic” incident late last year, when she was caught on tape calling David Seymour an arrogant prick.

UK-based New Zealand-born broadcaster Dan Wootton was similarly disparaging of Ardern in his tweet. “Good riddance,” he said. “Jacinda Ardern has resigned… knowing full well she was about to be booted from office by Kiwis who woke up to her Covid authoritarianism, Be Kind hypocrisy and an economic catastrophe.”

More credible outlets like Bloomberg, the New York Times, CNN and Reuters all led with coverage of Ardern. The Daily Mail headlined their article “Jacinda Ardern shocks the world and RESIGNS”, a contrast with the far more understated approach by the BBC: “New Zealand PM to step down next month”.

Ardern was also a topic of discussion within celebrity circles, with Jurassic Park star Sam Neill saying he wasn’t surprised by the resignation – but nor did he blame her. “Her treatment, the pile on, in the last few months has been disgraceful and embarrassing. All the bullies, the misogynists, the aggrieved. She deserved so much better. A great leader. Thanks PM!” Kath and Kim star Magda Szubanski said she was “gutted” and called Ardern a “fabulous woman”.

And in case you were wondering what Kim Dotcom thought, he too weighed in. “She’s been subject to much criticism and abuse. I believe she has tried her best,” he said.

Additional reporting Shanti Mathias.

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