Chris Hipkins is set to become the next prime minister of New Zealand after Jacinda Ardern. He emerged as the sole candidate to lead the Labour Party.
Hipkins will be confirmed as the new leader by Labour’s 64 lawmakers, or Caucus, who are set to meet on Sunday. Chris Hipkins became the sole nominee for the Prime Minister post after Jacinda Ardern, in a surprise announcement, decided to step down as Prime Minister and not seek re-election.
Hipkins’ current portfolio is education, police, and public service.
Chris Hipkins, 44, is a Member of the New Zealand Parliament for the Labour Party. Prior to his political career, Hipkins worked as a union organizer and political advisor. As a Member of Parliament, he serves on the Commerce and Employment Relations select committee.
His career started when he was elected to Parliament for the Labour Party in 2008. Hipkins became a household name during the pandemic, when he became the minister for COVID-19 and took on a kind of crisis management role in November 2020.
Chris Hipkins will formally tender his resignation on February 7 to the governor-general. The governor-general will then, on behalf of King Charles III, appoint Chris Hipkins as prime minister. His tenure may be brief, as general elections are scheduled for October.
Referring to his party, he said that he believes that they are a strong team, and it is amazing to work with people who have a real commitment to the people of New Zealand.
Jacinda Ardern is the current Prime Minister of New Zealand, having taken office on October 26, 2017. She is the leader of the Labour Party and the youngest woman to become the head of government in New Zealand’s history. Before entering politics, she worked as a researcher and advisor for the Labour Party. As Prime Minister, Ardern has made child poverty reduction, affordable housing, and climate change action key priorities of her government.
Ardern has been in office for six years, during which time she has given birth to her daughter and steered the country through the COVID pandemic. She is held in high regard all over the globe, but recently her ratings went down in New Zealand. The inflation rate in New Zealand is 7.2 percent, and it is believed that the country will go into recession this year.
In a surprise announcement on Thursday, she announced her resignation and also would not seek re-election. The reason for her stepping down is that she is “no more in the tank.” According to her, leading a country is a huge responsibility, and for that, one needs a full tank. She also made sure to state that she is not resigning due to the constant threats against her or her falling popularity.
The Way Ahead
A research poll obtained by a local media outlet shows that Chris Hipkins was the most popular potential candidate among voters, with a vote share of 26% of those surveyed. Adern will soon tender her resignation, and Hipkins is set to hold his first press conference on Saturday afternoon.
General elections will be held in October, and polls show that the Labour Party will struggle to retain power. A Taxpayers’ Union-Curia poll released before Ardern announced her resignation showed Labour’s popularity falling to 31.7%.
Labour’s traditional coalition partner, the Green Party, released a statement saying that they are looking forward to working with Chris Hipkins and that he will make an excellent prime minister. If everything went well, then Chris Hipkins is expected to take charge by February, 7.
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