Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern (/dʒəˈsɪndə ˈɑːrdɜːrn/; born 26 July 1980) is a New Zealand politician who has been serving as the 40th prime minister of New Zealand and leader of the Labour Party since 2017. First elected to the House of Representatives as a list MP in 2008, she has been the member of Parliament (MP) for Mount Albert since March 2017.
Born in Hamilton, Ardern grew up in Morrinsville and Murupara, where she attended a state school. After graduating from the University of Waikato in 2001, Ardern began her career working as a researcher in the office of Prime Minister Helen Clark. She later worked in London, within the Cabinet Office, and was elected president of the International Union of Socialist Youth. Ardern was first elected as an MP in the 2008 general election, when Labour lost power after nine years. She was later elected to represent the Mount Albert electorate in a by-election in February 2017.
Ardern was unanimously elected as deputy leader of the Labour Party on 1 March 2017, following the resignation of Annette King. Just five months later, with an election due, Labour’s leader Andrew Little resigned after a historically low opinion polling result for the party, with Ardern elected unopposed as leader in his place. She led her party to gain 14 seats at the 2017 general election on 23 September, winning 46 seats to the National Party’s 56. After a period of negotiations, New Zealand First chose to enter a minority coalition government with Labour, supported by the Green Party, with Ardern as prime minister; she was sworn in by the Governor-General on 26 October 2017. She became the world’s youngest female head of government at age 37. Ardern later became the world’s second elected head of government to give birth while in office (after Benazir Bhutto) when her daughter was born on 21 June 2018.
Ardern describes herself as a social democrat and a progressive. The Sixth Labour Government has focused particularly on the New Zealand housing crisis, child poverty, and social inequality. In March 2019, she led the country through the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque shootings, rapidly introducing strict gun laws in response, and throughout 2020 she directed the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ardern led the Labour Party to a historic victory in the 2020 general election, gaining an absolute majority of seats in Parliament, the first time this has happened since the introduction of proportional representation.