Following a decision that shocked both supporters and opponents, Jacinda Ardern has stated that she has "no regrets" about her plans to step down as leader of New Zealand.
Ms. Ardern stated that she was experiencing a "range of emotions," ranging from sadness to a "sense of relief," a day after announcing that she had "no more in the tank."
According to polls, her party faces a challenging road to re-election in October.
The prime minister stated that she would not publicly endorse any potential successors.
Ms. Ardern stated that she had "slept well for the first time in a long time" when she spoke on Friday outside of a Napier airport, where the Labour Party caucus had gathered for a retreat.
She denied suggestions made by some commentators that misogyny had influenced her decision in response to questions from reporters.
"You can have a family and be in these roles," Ms. Ardern said, adding that she had a "message for women in leadership and girls who are considering leadership in the future."
She said on Thursday that she was excited to spend more time with her family and be there for her daughter when she starts school later this year.
She will resign by February 7, and Labour Party members will vote on the party's leadership on Sunday. The vote will be given to the members of Labour as a whole if no candidate receives support from two-thirds of the party.
However, Ms. Ardern stated that she anticipated the selection of a replacement on Sunday.
The most likely candidate appears to be Chris Hipkins, who currently holds the education and police portfolios. When Mr. Hipkins, 44, was made minister for Covid-19 in November 2020, he led the government's response to the pandemic.
He later admitted that more stringent restrictions ought to have been eased sooner.
Minister of Justice Kiri Allan, 39, is one of the other potential candidates. She would become the first openly gay leader and the country's first prime minister if she succeeds.
On the list of potential replacements is also 42-year-old Minister for Transport and Workplace Safety Michael Wood.
In New Zealand, reactions to Ms. Ardern's decision have been mixed. Liliana Lozano, a local, said that the leader's "kindness and her ability to relate to others" will be missed.
She stated to the BBC, "Watching her on TV made me feel safe during the [Covid] lockdown."
However, Tina Watson, originally from the UK but now living in South Africa, attributed Ms. Ardern's closure of the borders for more than two years to the fact that she was separated from her family.
Ms. Watson stated, "Her Covid-19 restrictions were so harsh." In New Zealand, I have three children and six grandchildren, two of whom I have never met. She separated me from them. I'm glad she quit."
Recent polls indicate that Jacinda Ardern's personal popularity is at its lowest level since she assumed office in 2017.
Concerns about crime rates, a deteriorating economy, and a crisis in the cost of living are just a few of the issues New Zealand has been dealing with. BBC