New Zealand’s most reluctant Prime Minister


New Zealand finds itself in a very bizarre position right now with a politician who is quite possibly the most reluctant Prime Minister in New Zealand history. Not all politicians have a burning ambition to become the leader of their party and then eventually the Prime Minister. Many aspire to be a minister with a portfolio and others are quite happy as list MP’s doing very little in exchange for their generous taxpayer salaries.

The stress and responsibility and power that comes with leadership appeals to only a few and your typical career politician will spend most of their working life climbing their way up the ladder and gathering support around them if they aspire to the top job.

While Jacinda Ardern was interested in politics from an early age becoming Prime Minister was never her ambition. She didn’t want the job and she had no expectation of actually getting the job. Not even her supporters expected her to get the top job.

Jacinda Ardern knows she lost and shouldn’t keep up the facade of being the Prime Minister in waiting, according to one of her strongest backers.

[…] Mr Trotter now says it’s time for her to admit defeat, rather try to stitch together a Labour-Greens-NZ First coalition.

“She knows she’s lost – 35, 36 percent is not enough,” he told The AM Show on Monday. “Maybe the specials will bump them up to 37, 38… but whether it’s enough to materially change things, I don’t know.”

He pointed out in 1949, Labour got 48 percent of the vote and still lost.

“Those numbers that we think are so good in the past would have betokened a decisive defeat.”


Jacinda Ardern reluctantly took over the leadership of the Labour party so that their election loss would be not as bad as expected under Andrew Little. She performed beyond their expectations and she was no doubt looking forward to having three years in opposition to get her head around the role that had been thrust upon her.

November 2015

Labour’s rising star Jacinda Ardern says she is too “selfish” to want to lead the Labour Party – she’d rather have a private life.

In an interview announcing her new role as a Sunday Star-Times columnist, Ardern says people are wasting their time speculating about her as a future leader … she doesn’t want the job.

[…] Ardern’s rise is as rare as it is meteoric for a lower-ranked MP. But it was not enough to secure the deputy leadership – Ardern was recently passed over by leader Andrew Little in favour of parliamentary veteran Annette King.

[…] Ardern said she never sought the deputy leadership and it was never offered by Little. She also ruled out seeking the top job.

I don’t want to be prime minister … yes, I have aspirations, but my singular focus is the opportunity to be the minister for children. I’ve spent a lot of years around child welfare and I want the chance to do something about it. But I don’t have to be in charge to deliver on that.”

A big part of the reason for her not wanting the job though was “a little chink of selfishness” about wanting to preserve some private life as an MP.

“For me, the job I’m doing I have absolute satisfaction with and I get to have a life at the same time.”


June 2017

Deputy Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has shot down claims that she’s after the party’s top job, telling NEXT magazine that, despite the positive reaction to her promotion, she’s not holding out to become leader.

“I just feel like there’s more people to let down now. I do feel an enormous amount of pressure. Because I know there are lots of people who don’t want me to screw up, and there are just as many who would really love it if I did,” she tells the magazine.

“It’s me knowing myself and knowing that actually, when you’re a bit of an anxious person, and you constantly worry about things, there comes a point where certain jobs are just really bad for you. I hate letting people down. I hate feeling like I’m not doing the job as well as I should. I’ve got a pretty big weight of responsibility right now; I can’t imagine doing much more than that.”

The 36-year-old politician describes herself as too much of a ‘risk-averse person’ to be prime minister at this stage in her career.

“I always have been. Which is why politics is such a terrible place for me to be! I’m constantly anxious about making mistakes. Everything in politics feels so fragile; just like that [clicks fingers] you could stumble and that’s forever what you’ll be known for. So yes, I do live in this constant fear of what might be.

Jacinda Ardern in her own words is not Prime Minister material. She is unlikely to last the full three years as she is likely to crack under the pressure due to her being ” risk -averse”, ” anxious,” ” under pressure” and because she considers the job to be ” bad for her.”

“Clarke [Gayford, Ardern’s long-term partner] really tries to pull me back from the precipice of anxiety a lot, but it’s just who I am. […]

She certainly doesn’t seem to be enjoying her new role but that is no surprise given the fact that she didn’t choose the job but had it thrust upon her by a desperate Labour Party.

Credit: Comrade Jacinda FB page

It is clear from the below news story from when Andrew Little stood down that it was well known that Jacinda was not eager to take on the top role. I am sure that a lot of pressure behind the scenes was brought to bear on her as she had earlier encouraged Andrew Little to stay in the job.

Andrew Little will step down as Labour’s leader, and says he will back Jacinda Ardern to take up the role, should she want it. […] 

He had yet to see a list of candidates but expected Ms Ardern to step up. […]

“We need to get our message out way more clearly than we have done. I have absolute confidence in Jacinda – of course if she does step up and choose to be the leader.

I am sure that no one was more surprised than Jacinda Ardern when  Winston Peters announced that he was going to form a coalition with Labour. All the mistakes we are seeing right now from the Labour party reflect the fact that none of them expected to be in this position and none of them were at all prepared or ready for being in power, especially Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s most reluctant Prime Minister.

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If you agree with me that’s nice, but what I really want to achieve is to make you question the status quo, look between the lines and do your own research. Do not be a passive observer in this game we call life.

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