Mainstream news outlets are mourning the imminent departure of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who on Thursday announced her resignation effective next month. Ardern cited a lack of energy as the reason for her decision, saying she no longer has “enough in the tank”.
Jacinda Ardern, who assumed office in 2017, became known for her totalitarian leadership style during COVID-19, which included threats to ban summer unless enough Kiwis took the COVID-19 injections.
In 2021 Ardern made clear that she wanted to separate the country into “classes” of vaccinated and unvaccinated with only the vaccinated allowed civil rights.
"You've basically said, and you probably don't see it like this, but two different classes of people if you're vaccinated or unvaccinated. If you're vaccinated you have all these rights," asked a journalist from the New Zealand Herald.
"That is what it is, yep," responded Ardern, nodding and smiling.
In 2020 Ardern instructed citizens to only believe information disseminated by the government.
“We will continue to be your single source of truth,” Ardern said at a press conference. “Unless you hear it from us it is not the truth," she added, urging citizens to “dismiss anything else”.
The prime minister imposed such strict travel restrictions on the country that a pregnant woman abroad, barred from entering New Zealand despite being thrice vaccinated, was forced to turn to the Taliban for protection.
But Ardern’s autocratic approach was not limited to COVID-19. Last year, she proposed taxing farmers for the “greenhouse gas emissions” resulting from their livestock’s burps and urine. Under the proposal, farmers who meet a certain herd or fertilizer threshold will be forced to pay the government a tax every one to three years. While farmers oppose the plan Ardern insists they support the move.
Unsurprisingly, Ardern’s popularity has been declining, with her current approval rating at the lowest of her reign, according to the BBC.
But the World Economic Forum member is more popular than ever with the mainstream media who are waxing lyrical about Ardern and framing her leadership as “empathetic”.
“Jacinda Ardern gives the world a lesson in humility,” sang a headline from the Washington Post.
In a separate article, the news outlet bemoaned the “abrupt end to the five-year tenure of a prime minister whose empathetic brand of governance during several crises elevated her to the global stage.”
“Ardern won praise for her calm stewardship of the Pacific nation through a number of major events, including the coronavirus pandemic, a volcanic eruption and the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack. She spearheaded legislation to ban military-style semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles just six days after the attack, in which more than 50 people were killed,” WaPo continued.
Reuters also praised Ardern’s “empathetic leadership style”, saying she “won plaudits across the political spectrum for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
BBC, quoting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese that Ardern was a leader of “empathy”, claimed “she steered New Zealand through the Covid-19 pandemic and its ensuing recession, the Christchurch mosque shootings, and the White Island volcanic eruption.”
CNN joined in by saying “Ardern gained supporters globally for her fresh and empathetic approach to the role” and that she “gained a reputation as a trailblazer while in office, speaking frequently about gender equality and women’s rights.”
Ardern also congratulated herself on being empathetic.
"I hope I leave New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind, but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focused. And that you can be your own kind of leader – one who knows when it’s time to go," she said.
The news corporations all brought several supportive and glowing remarks about Ardern from fellow world leaders such as Australia’s Albanese and Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, though they struggled to find quotes from New Zealand citizens in support of Ardern.