Less than 24 hours after becoming New Zealand's youngest prime minister in 150 years, Jacinda Ardern had to face the question of whether a woman of her age could have a baby and career together.
Assuming office as the world's youngest female prime minister at the age of 37, on 26 October 2017, may raise this question. However, being a first-time mother, her leadership led New Zealand through three tumultuous years. It endured its worst-ever terror attack, a deadly volcano eruption, and a global pandemic that has tested leaders around the globe made this the question almost laughable.
Jacinda Ardern captured global attention for many reasons. Still, her first term has ended up being defined by her ability to handle a crisis — her response to the Christchurch mosque shootings on March 15, 2019. She passed a law banning most semi-automatic weapons in the country, just less than a month after terrorists fatally shot 50 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch's city on two mosques.
And then came Covid-19. Without any delay, Jacinda imposed a strict lockdown across the land, including border closures. The country of 5 million so far recorded fewer than 2000 cases, with only 25 deaths, while 1.1 million people died of the virus globally. Her stern stands against the virus earned broad support for her government.
Meanwhile, defeating the virus has come at a high cost. The country's economy shrank at an 12.2% annual clip in the second quarter, its steepest drop since the Great Depression. Debt is forecast to rise to 56% of gross domestic product from less than 20% before the pandemic. More than six months of border restrictions have hit the country's tourism operators as well.
Hence, many think recession to have a profound impact on the national psyche as most New Zealanders have never experienced genuine hardship before
Besides, many New Zealanders felt she was failing to deliver on her promises of transformational change, such as tackling a housing shortage, high child poverty rates, income inequality and climate change.
The 40-year-old Labour Party leader is all set for a second term as New Zealand's prime minister, reflecting her leadership credentials on the back of her successful response to the pandemic at elections campaigns, despite losing some support since the virus resurfaced in Auckland in August.
She has also boosted infrastructure spending, tackling the country's chronic housing shortage, improving healthcare, and achieving 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 during her election campaigns.
Her party has again promised higher minimum wages and extended sick-pay entitlements, building on measures to increase support to lower-income voters.
Jacinda Ardern goes into the 2020 general election that is taking place from October 17 with an approval rating of 55%.
So far, her Labour Party had 50.5% of the votes, ahead of the opposition National Party of Judith Collins at 25.8%, the Electoral Commission said, with 30% of ballots counted in the election. If Labour wins more than half the seats, Ardern could form the first single-party government in decades under the current system. If she falls short, she is expected to continue to rely on the minor Greens while jettisoning New Zealand First.
Now, only time to tell whether New Zealanders will re-elect Jacinda Ardern for the second consecutive years, acknowledging her premiership of handling the life-altering Covid-19 crisis along with others.
Meanwhile, if we look at South Korea, President Moon Jae-in's Democratic Party wins election as Koreans back his strategy to tackle Covid-19.
Experts have widely praised Moon Jae-in's coronavirus strategy for being prompt, precise, nationwide and useful.
Who knows? Maybe New Zealanders can follow the same!
The report was prepared based on information from many international outlets