- Title: Profile of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ahead of general election
- Date: 29th September 2020
- Summary: WHAKATANE, NEW ZEALAND (FILE - DECEMBER 12, 2019) (REUTERS) SMOKE RISING FROM WHITE ISLAND VOLCANO AERIAL VIEW OF SMOKE RISING FROM VOLCANO FLOWERS AND SIGNS ON TRIBUTE FENCE
- Embargoed: 13th October 2020 10:49
- Keywords: COVID-19 Christchurch Jacinda Ardern New Zealand Pacific White Island climate change coronavirus election first baby gender equality gun laws lockdown mosque pregnant shooting social media volcano wellbeing
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- Country: New Zealand
- Topics: Asia / Pacific,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00YCYGAVYF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: New Zealand Prime Minister and Labour Party Leader Jacinda Ardern is on track to claim victory and retain power in the October 17 election, opinion polls say.
As the country's youngest leader in more than a century, the charismatic 40-year-old's response to the mass shooting by a white supremacist in Christchurch, a fatal volcanic eruption and her success with the COVID-19 pandemic has won her international praise and admiration.
Ardern's brand of liberal, inclusive and compassionate leadership has seen some even label her "the anti-Trump".
Having previously worked under former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and as an advisor to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Ardern rose to become Labour Leader in 2017.
Her communication skills and ability to connect with the public - dubbed "Jacinda-mania" - helped upstage the 2017 election, which had previously been seen as a shoe-in for the ruling centre-right National Party. In October 2017, Ardern, then 37-years-old, became New Zealand's third female prime minister through a coalition deal after an inconclusive election.
In January 2018, Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford - a television fishing show presenter - made the announcement that she was pregnant with her first child. The couple said they found out the news just six days before she secured power.
Ardern gave birth in June 2018 to Neve Te Aroha, becoming only the second leader in history after Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto to give birth while in office.
On her return from a six-week maternity leave, Ardern spoke at the United Nations and at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland, highlighting issues such as gender equality and climate change.
But it was her leadership in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque shootings in March of 2019 that turned a global spotlight onto Ardern, where she helped New Zealand grieve following the country's worst peacetime mass shooting that shook the nation to its core.
She prompted the government to quickly enact and tighten gun laws, as well as urging changes to the role social media plays in the propagation of violent and extremist media.
Ardern and Gayford became engaged in mid-2019.
Ardern's Prime Ministership was tested once more, when 21 people died when the White Island volcano erupted when their tour party were visiting the location.
With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Ardern moved quickly to close New Zealand's borders to all foreigners to slow the spread of COVID-19. She implemented a one-month compulsory lockdown for the country, telling New Zealanders to behave as if they had the coronavirus and cut all physical contact outside of their households.
A video of Ardern staying cool and continuing a live TV interview during an earthquake that rattled Wellington, encapsulated for many her poise.
After progressively lifting social restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Ardern led the country to 102 straight days without domestic transmission. An outbreak in Auckland forced her to delay the general election, scheduled for September 19, to October 17.
(Production: James Redmayne)
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