Jacinda Ardern: Politician likely to become New Zealand's next PM wants to ditch the Queen

Labour Party leader says she would encourage national debate over cutting ties with the royal family

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Thursday 07 September 2017 12:40
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Jacinda Ardern has almost single-handedly changed the chances of her Labour Party since taking over as leader last month
Jacinda Ardern has almost single-handedly changed the chances of her Labour Party since taking over as leader last month

The woman tipped to be New Zealand's next Prime Minister has said the country should consider removing Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state.

Jacinda Ardern, whose Labour Party has dramatically widened its lead in the polls over the governing National Party, said she would seek to encourage a national debate over cutting ties with Britain's royal family.

"I am a republican but you will find there are people in New Zealand who aren’t actively pursuing that change," the 37-year-old told The Times. "It’s certainly not about my view of the monarchy but my view of New Zealand’s place in the world and carving out our own future. So that is what drives my sentiment."

If the Labour Party can replicate its success in the polls at the general election on 23 September, it will likely threaten the National Party's decade-long hold on power.

The latest poll for the 1 News broadcaster, saw the National Party fall by two points to 39 per cent, while support for the opposition was unchanged at 43 per cent.

Ms Ardern has almost single-handedly changed the chances of her Labour Party since taking over as leader last month.

Her charisma and popularity appear to have offset criticism about the party's tax plans and tighter immigration policy.

Ms Ardern reiterated that her first call would be to the Green Party, with which she has a working agreement, if she was in a position to form a coalition government after the vote.

The Labour leader was nonetheless careful to hedge her republican views, saying that many New Zealanders hold the Queen in high regard.

“No matter when you have the conversation there’s a knock-on effect, there’s a much-loved monarch who will be affected by that decision,” she said.

In a recent speech to students at the University of Waikato, Ms Ardern said that her countrymen and women may not be ready for a debate on the monarchy.

“It’s not something that people are crying out for right now; I don’t think that should stop us from having the conversation," she said.

National leader Bill English, who is pinning his bid on his government's strong economic record, said he was not particularly worried about the latest poll results.

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