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HomeWorldWho is Chris Hipkins, New Zealand's next prime minister?

Who is Chris Hipkins, New Zealand’s next prime minister?

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In Wellington, New Zealand, on January 21, 2023, Chris Hipkins addresses the media following his confirmation as the sole candidate to succeed Jacinda Ardern as Labour Party leader (Reuters)

The only candidate to enter the race to succeed Jacinda Ardern on Saturday was Chris Hipkins, the minister of education, and he is expected to become the next prime minister of New Zealand.

Hipkins, 44, still needs the support of his Labour Party colleagues on Sunday, although that is really a formality at this point. In the days that follow, there will be an official transfer of power.

Hipkins referred to his hometown of Wellington’s nearby Hutt Valley by saying, “It’s a big day for a boy from the Hutt.” “I’m both incredibly humbled and incredibly proud to be taking on this. The biggest privilege and responsibility of my life are involved.

After serving as prime minister for five and a half years, Ardern surprised the 5 million-person nation on Thursday by announcing her resignation.

Because there weren’t any other candidates, it was clear that party lawmakers had sided with Hipkins in order to prevent a long election and any indication of division in the wake of Ardern’s resignation.

Hipkins won’t hold the position for much longer than eight months before running in a general election. According to opinion surveys, the conservative National Party, Labour’s major rival, is ahead.

Hipkins became more well-known to the public when he assumed a crisis management position during the coronavirus outbreak. He and other liberals, though, have long been shadowed by Ardern, a  global icon  who represented a new kind of leadership.

Ardern, who was only 37 when she took office, won accolades from all over the world for how she handled the country’s worst mass shooting and the early phases of the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, she was subjected to increasing domestic political pressures and a level of hostility from some that had never been seen before in a New Zealand leader. She received threatening messages and nasty statements online.

“Our society could now usefully reflect on whether it wants to continue to tolerate the excessive polarization which is making politics an increasingly unattractive calling,” wrote former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Ardern announced on Thursday that she would be quitting her job no later than February 7 while fighting back tears.

“I know what this job takes, and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It is that simple,” she said.

Hipkins is the leader of the House as well as the minister of police and the public service in addition to holding the portfolio for education. He is regarded as a political troubleshooter who has played a number of roles in an effort to resolve issues brought up by other legislators.

But he’s also made some mistakes of his own, such as when he advised people they could go outside and “spread their legs” during a viral lockdown, a remark that caused much laughter online.

When Hipkins spoke to reporters outside of Parliament, he attracted a small group of applauding bystanders. He claimed to have returned from his summer holiday with renewed energy, to be a hard worker, a straight shooter, and to not intend to lose his sense of humour in his new position.

Grant Robertson will continue to serve as finance minister, he said, adding that he wouldn’t be making any announcements about changes to policy or ministerial responsibilities until Sunday’s vote. Hipkins praised Ardern and stated that he thought he might win the election.

“Jacinda Ardern has been an incredible prime minister for New Zealand,” Hipkins said. “She was the leader that we needed at the time that we needed it.”

Hipkins has been a lawmaker for 15 years, and because he is seen as more moderate than Ardern, his colleagues anticipate that he will win over a wide variety of people.

Convincing people that his party is handling the economy successfully will be one of his major tasks during an election year.

The unemployment rate in New Zealand is only 3.3%, compared to a high inflation rate of 7.2%. The benchmark interest rate in New Zealand has increased to 4.25% as the Reserve Bank works to manage inflation, and some experts believe the nation may enter a recession this year.

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Aaradhya is working as a Sub-Editor at The Vocal News. She enjoys writing about gadgets and automobiles because she is a tech and automotive fanatic. She has done her bachelors in Journalism and Mass communication from Makhanlal Chaturvedi Rashtriya Patrakarita Vishwavidyalaya. "I write to discover what I know."

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