New Zealand Just Selected Its Youngest Prime Minister Since 1856
Former DJ, lapsed Mormon, noted feminist. The back of Jacinda Ardern’s baseball card makes for good reading, and you can now add “youngest prime minister of New Zealand since 1856” to it. She’s 37.
Winston Peters, the leader of the minority New Zealand First party, revealed Ardern’s selection as prime minister on live television with much fanfare on Thursday, announcing that he would support her as leader of a coalition government.
The coalition will make bedfellows of New Zealand First, an anti-immigrant party, and Ardern’s Labour party. They will need the support of the eight Green party MPs to overcome the 50% +1 threshold to pass legislation. The Green party will not formally join the coalition, but will decide whether to give their support on a case-by-case basis.
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Ardern will face an uphill battle outside the walls of Parliament, too. Notably, a diplomatic spat with Australia—which led to accusations that New Zealand’s Labour party had tried to overthrow its neighbor’s government—led Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop to say it would be difficult to work with Labour if the party was to come to power.
As head of the government, Ardern will be the New Zealand’s third female prime minister. Earlier this year, she criticized the media’s sexist focus on her looks and her plans for starting a family.
A Labour party member for 20 years and member of Parliament for nearly ten, Ardern rose quickly through the party ranks in the past few months before becoming its leader in August. And she did it all without a sip of coffee. She reportedly doesn’t touch the stuff.