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New Zealand to confirm Hipkins as next Prime Minister

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New Zealand to confirm Hipkins as next Prime Minister

Hipkins prime minister
New Zealand’s parliament is expected to confirm Christopher Hipkins as the next Prime Minister today – Photo: Robert Kitchin/AP/FILE

New Zealand’s next Prime Minister, Christoper Hipkins, will be confirmed when the ruling center-left Labour party—which enjoys a commanding majority in parliament—formally meets today.

Hipkins—the former COVID-19 response Minister—Is the only nominee for the job. Incumbent Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shocked the nation on January 19 by announcing her retirement from office. Ardern’s once stratospheric domestic popularity has taken a hit in the past year following unpopular domestic plans to restructure water infrastructure and to tax methane gas emissions—the largest source of the country’s emissions—on farms.

Hipkins has a difficult task to arrest sliding poll numbers ahead of the October 14 general election. Despite falling popularity, Ardern remained the most preferred Prime Minister in every poll and was still Labour’s best chance at remaining in power. In contrast, Hipkins does not enjoy the same high profile in the country. Furthermore, the stagnating economy—a recession is predicted for mid-year—and ongoing high inflation has made Labour’s re-election chances increasingly remote.

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Expect Hipkins—known as “Mr. Fixit” after handling tough portfolios in recent years—is likely to undertake a major policy appraisal and this may include watering down the controversial water and emissions plans.

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