WELLINGTON (HRNW) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won global acclaim for her response to the Christchurch mosque shootings — but 12 months on, her political future hangs in the balance and there are signs “Jacinda-mania” has peaked.
The centre-left leader had been in office barely 18 months on March 15 last year when a self-avowed white supremacist opened fire at two mosques during Friday prayers, killing 51 and injuring another 40.
Faced with a crisis unprecedented in New Zealand’s modern history, Ardern rose to the challenge with a mixture of compassion and decisive action.
She offered support for New Zealand’s Muslims, rejected the shooter’s ideology, immediately moved to tighten gun laws and launched a global initiative to curb online extremism.
Ardern’s personal popularity rating peaked at 51 percent shortly after the shootings and her Labour Party briefly reached similar levels, setting her on a path to reelection in polls set for later this year.
But the September 19 vote is now looking uncomfortably tight for the 39-year-old, with the centre-right National Party edging ahead five points in opinion polls to 46 percent.