New Zealand: Labour Party Selects Chris Hipkins as PM

On Sunday, New Zealand's ruling Labour Party approved Chris Hipkins to replace Jacinda Ardern as leader, making him the 41st prime minister in the country's history.

New Zealand: Labour Party Selects Chris Hipkins as PM
Image credit: AP [via CNN]

Facts

  • On Sunday, New Zealand's ruling Labour Party approved Chris Hipkins to replace Jacinda Ardern as leader, making him the 41st prime minister in the country's history.
  • Hipkins — who emerged as the only candidate to lead the Labour Party — swiftly appointed Carmel Sepuloni as the nation's first deputy prime minister. Ardern will formally tender her resignation to the governor-general before Hipkins is sworn in on Wednesday.
  • This comes after Ardern unexpectedly declared on Thursday that she would step down from her position, citing burnout and lack of energy for re-election after her six "challenging" years in office.
  • First elected to parliament in 2008, 44-year-old Hipkins was appointed the health minister in July 2020 and later became the COVID response minister.
  • His elevation comes amid a forecast of a deep economic recession marked by high inflation and a cost-of-living crisis.
  • An opinion poll released Friday indicates Ardern's resignation is likely to improve Labour's chances of re-election even though the ruling party's popularity has fallen to 32%, behind the National Party at 37%. A general election will be held on Oct. 14.

Sources: Reuters, BBC News, ABC, and Tax Payers.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by BBC News. Labour is bleeding public support as dissatisfaction with high inflation and prolonged COVID controls batter New Zealand's tourism industry. Though he's seen as the safest choice for the party, Chris Hipkins faces an uphill task to convince the country that he can turn the economy around. Strict lockdowns and extended border closures knocked the economy and Ardern out and the forecast isn't looking any different for Hipkins.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by NZ Herald. Ardern's sudden resignation left the Labour party without a successor and in far worse shape to fight the Oct. 14 election. Nonetheless, Hipkins is a household name who can step out of Ardern's shadow and take New Zealand to new heights. A career politician, Hipkins has the political antennae to reconnect the government with loyal voters, drop unpopular policies, and ensure New Zealand's politics reach global prominence.