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How Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is Reshaping Political Leadership in New Zealand
The appointment of Jacinda Ardern to lead the New Zealand Labour Party six weeks out from the 2017 Election took many by surprise. Ardern was 37 years old but has always been touted as a potential future leader. However, from the moment she took up the mantle questions emerged about her experience, her record in office, her leadership competence, and whether she was likely to become a mother. This questioning continued for much of the campaign and during the process of coalition formation talks. Ardern’s party won only 37% of the vote, but she negotiated a three-party coalition-support agreement to form a Labour-led government. Three months later she announced her pregnancy. As such, Ardern became New Zealand’s youngest Prime Minister since 1856, designed a style of coalition government unprecedented in contemporary New Zealand political history, and she is only the second woman globally to become a mother while holding prime ministerial office. This paper explores the multitude of ways Ardern has challenged traditional and gendered sensibilities as to what constitutes prime-ministerial leadership in New Zealand.
by Jennifer Curtin
Jennifer Curtin is Professor of Politics and Director of the Public Policy Institute at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Her research and publications focus on women, politics and leadership, trans-Tasman policy innovations and elections, sport and politics, and gender analysis in policy making. She was a NZ-Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at Georgetown in 2012. Her recent books include A Bark but No Bite. Inequality and the 2014 New Zealand General Election (ANU Press, with Vowles and Coffe) and Double Disillusion. The 2016 Australian Federal Election (ANU Press, with Gauja, Chen and Pietsch).
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
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