Chris Hipkins, New Zealand’s Education Minister who also spearheaded the response to the COVID-19 epidemic, will be the country’s next prime minister, succeeding Jacinda Ardern. According to the Labour Party, Hipkins is the sole candidate nominated to lead the party. Hipkins is anticipated to be approved as the next leader of the Labour Party during a meeting of the Labour Party Caucus, which includes 64 members, on Sunday.
“I think we’re an incredibly strong team,” Hipkins said at a press conference after being named the single candidate, according to news agency Reuters.
“We’ve gone through this process with unity and we’ll continue to do that. I’m feeling really fortunate to be working with such an amazing group of people who have a real commitment to the service of the people of New Zealand,” he added.
Jacinda Ardern made an unexpected statement on Thursday, saying she had “no more in the tank” to lead the country and will stand aside rather than run for re-election.
After being named minister for COVID-19 in November 2020, 44-year-old Chris Hipkins, who was first elected to parliament for the Labour Party in 2008, became a household figure for playing a crisis management role in the government’s reaction to the pandemic.
He is the current Minister of Police, Education, and Public Service, as well as the House Leader.
According to Reuters, Hipkins was the most popular possible candidate among voters, with the backing of 26% of those polled, according to a Horizon Research snap poll acquired by local media organisation Stuff on Friday.
Hipkins’ ratification is anticipated to be a formality at the Labour Party meeting on Sunday afternoon. Before Hipkins is appointed, Ardern will present her resignation to the Governor General.
Hipkins will be prime minister until the end of the Labour Party’s mandate and will face a general election on October 14, with some polls showing the Labour Party trailing its primary opponent, the conservative National Party.