New Zealand politics: who is Jacinda Ardern?

By Hefin Rees Edwards

Jacinda Arden, 37, will become New Zealand’s youngest PM in over a century after her Labour Party successfully formed a coalition with the New Zealand First and Green Party.

Having only become leader just 7 weeks before the general election in September, Arden defied expert opinion by leading Labour to win 46 parliamentary seats. Arden has branded capitalism a “blatant failure” with regards to issues such as homelessness and looks to roll out a legislative programme that is left leaning and interventionist.  She plans to build 100,000 affordable homes in a decade, invest $6 billion in education, raise the minimum wage by 75 cents to $16.50 an hour, as well as promising free 3 year university tuition by 2024.

Arden is socially liberal, having promised to decriminalise abortion and proposing to legalise cannabis for people with terminal illnesses or who are in chronic pain. On immigration she is taking a harder stance by pledging to cut net migration from 70,000 down to 40,000.

Cast in the same mould as other world leaders such as Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron who have invigorated younger voters, she has injected fresh energy into New Zealand politics with her young, charismatic and authentic approach.

Photograph: Ulysse Bellier via Flickr 

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