Even in times of difficulty, Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government has been an international beacon of good governance.
In the midst of a global pandemic, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has become a hero.
Her government’s quick response to the covid pandemic has received tremendous praise from across the political spectrum- even from usual opponents.
On the 8th of June Prime Minister Ardern confirmed zero new cases of covid-19, even as the virus continued to spread throughout Europe and the US. As Europe faces its second wave, and America still grapples with the first, New Zealand have still only recorded 25 coronavirus-related deaths as of the 14th of October.
To much international praise, she declared the country “covid-free”; it could thus loosen its stringent lockdown. New Zealand was thus in the position foreign governments have long hoped of. It could ease almost all of its lockdown measures.
Piers Morgan, a provocative political commentator, took to Twitter to announce he wished Britian “had a leader like Jacinda Ardern”. It seems the Prime Minister has been closely watching the Kiwi government; an article in Forbes recently commented on Mr Johnson’s “imitation” of Mr Ardern’s style of leadership.
Ms Ardern is New Zealand’s most popular prime minister in the country’s history, according to a nation-wide poll. Her party, Labour, now enjoys 56.5% of public support- a record the government is rightly proud of.
This radicalism is not new. Ardern’s Labour government has consistently championed progressive causes- even as voters flock to authoritarian strongmen in a time of geopolitical chaos.
Jacinda Ardern’s Labour party was an international role model before the pandemic.
In response to the horrific Christchurch shooting, her government introduced regulations comprehensively restricting the sale of the kind of weapons used in the shooting.
A bill criminalising possession of “military-style” assault rifles received unanimous support. When put before parliament, 119 MPs voted in favour; just one voted against. American Democrats soon applauded her decisive response.
In other areas, most notably on climate policy, her government has been equally impressive. Last year, in November, the country’s parliament enshrined the country’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement into law, formally affirming her government’s laser-focus determination to address the climate emergency. The Zero Carbon Bill sets a clear aim to reduce all carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2050.
A majority of National MPs voted in favour of the Bill, further proving the universal determination of Kiwi MPs to tackle the issue.
Prime Minister Adern declared the historic vote “this generation’s nuclear moment”, to enthusiastic applause from parliamentarians of all parties. New Zealand is “on the right side of history”, she continued.
Her government has also relentlessly defended liberal internationalism in spite of scrupulous pressure. Ms Ardern has positioned New Zealand as an outspoken counterbalance to rising authoritarianism and isolationism internationally. She recently used her speech at a G20 summit to call for greater cross-border collaboration, particularly on climate change and denuclearisation, further affirming the nation’s long-standing commitment to non-violent foreign policy.
Jacinda Ardern recently announced the government’s “well-being” budget. Instead of focusing on GDP, her government will prioritise other measures of the nation’s social progress, such as life satisfaction and job security. Under this new budget, the government will divert future spending to five wellness aims, notably reducing child poverty and reducing CO2 emissions. The Budget includes a substantial investment in combating domestic violence of $320 million. Her government received widespread praise, notably from British Labour parliamentarians who called it a “brilliant idea”. Charity leaders were also supportive; several multinational women’s-support NGOs have encouraged other governments to do the same.
New Zealand has a proud history of punching well above its weight internationally. It was one of the first countries to grant women the vote. In the 2010s it used its influence to champion cross-border action on climate change. In the face of a global pandemic, New Zealand has once again become a world leader, championing social justice and human rights in the process.
Ardern told Newhub “To me, leadership is not about necessarily being the loudest in the room, but instead being the bridge or the thing that is missing in the discussion and trying to build a consensus from there.” In the era of chauvinism and populism, Prime Minister Ardern’s government has given the world reason for hope; it has proved that decency can triumph.