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Leadership of Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern on the background of present political and legal challenges

21.08.2020

Jacinda Ardern, the youngest since 1856 and third woman to hold the Prime Minister office, is rated as one of the most effective leaders in the history of New Zealand. The Prime Minister’s strength was revealed particularly clearly during the pandemic. Indeed, New Zealand has been hailed as a success story when it comes to tackling the coronavirus. Paradoxically, at the time when the government imposed some of the world’s toughest lockdown measures, the Prime Minister’s popularity increased and resulted in New Zealanders coining the phrase ‘Jacinda-mania’.I speak with Dr Negar Partow from the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand, about the leadership style of Jacinda Ardern, its components and conditions, trying to decipher to what extent it is different from previous leadership models and how Jacinda who represent a new generation of world leaders will handle what comes after the COVID-19 pandemic.Justyna Eska-Mikołajewska: All important phenomena associated with human activities, including politics, constantly remind us that we follow cyclical patterns. If we assume that cycles can be viewed as a metaphor for change, what does the recent change describe about the context for Jacinda Ardern’s premiership?Negar Partow: Well, some of them are linear but I understand your point. Let’s not forget that Jacinda was not elected overwhelmingly by people in her first round. It was rather the proportional representation system of New Zealand politics that allowed her to become the premier. If it was not for the decision of Mr Winston Peters to go with Labour instead of the National Party, and the decision of Mr Andrew Little to resign as leader of the Labour Party, the situation was different.Nonetheless, the style of leadership and the ways through which she presents her party and New Zealand government, certainly shows a transformative way in which young women approach politics. This is partly the fortunate outcome of decades of women education and the offspring of all the formidable works for which the previous generations of feminists struggled. She is certainly different from her predecessors because she doesn’t have to fight or to be apologetic for being a woman politician. What is beautiful in this scenario is that she knows exactly about the role of women before her and all the works that women are doing on the ground.Jacinda represent a new generation of women who are interested in changing the world to a better place, to think about people, and to think critically about global capitalism and consumerism and its impact on people. The equal distribution of wealth, protecting the poor, creating opportunities for growth, and be empathetic and kind. While it is going to take a while before we can see such model of leadership in large and medium powers (Russia, Australia), its immergence is the first step. What makes this transformation even more promising is the support that Jacinda has received globally for her empathetic style of leadership. Her honesty, ability to listen attentively and to be with people in difficult time makes her an exceptional leader.Thus, Jacinda Ardern as a representative of a new generation of leaders confirms that the political cycle is driven, among other things, by a generational shift. We can understand this by comparing the former Prime Ministers: Helen Clark, John Key and his deputy Bill English. The last generational shift was Robert Muldoon – David Lange change. Rhetorical, pragmatic or maybe based on bargaining demands – how could you describe Jacinda Ardern’s leadership style?Empathetic, and it has proven to be a very effective form of leadership too. For generations, state-centric politics has been dominated by a culture of institutionalism. One of the major flows in institutionalism is its processes. In the state-centric institutional model, social and political issues are to be addressed and resolved in government institutions and through processes that are often devoid from emotions. Political rhetoric are often sensationalist but they lack substance. Emotions are often used for sensationalist politics rather than genuine, transparent and accountable politics. Political and judicial institutions around the world, are embedded with historical prejudices and often are dominated by discriminatory political cultures. As the result, many become victims of states, rather than being protected by them. This is due to inherent philosophical and political shortcomings of the modern state system and the problems it generates are not unique to New Zealand.Jacinda represent a new generation of leaders, who demand a fundamental change in the way we do politics. Jacinda began her political career in the parliament when she was young and she has understood the desperate need of the system for kindness. Empathy, to her, is one of the foundations that is required for politics to free itself from this inherent shortcoming. Whether in the case of the March 15 terrorist attack or during the White Island eruption period or the Covid-19 pandemic, Jacinda has shown significant empathy and has made empathy the cornerstone of her responses.New Zealand is one of those countries that granted voting rights to women before World War I, and therefore a vanguard comparing to most European countries and the United States. Accordingly, has women’s political leadership in New Zealand been culturally and socially determined?Historically, it was partly out of the necessity of war and the issues that women had to deal with in New Zealand in the absence of men that encouraged women to be politically active. The first group who campaigned for women’s rights were faced significant resistance from men in power. While they could vote, it took them some time to become leaders. The piece that Mary Ann Müller wrote in 1869 called ‘An appeal to the men of New Zealand’ is a powerful revolutionary piece and shows how much resistance their movement was facing. It took almost ten petitions and years of hard work before women could achieve the right to vote in New Zealand. Jenny Shipley became the first female prime minister in 1997 following Bolger’s resignation. Since 1997, however, three out of five Prime Ministers in New Zealand have been women.It is correct that like any other country, women still suffer from gender inequality but politically and socially, women’s leadership is accepted and respected in New Zealand. This has given the country great advantage as it can rely in women and men in developing a better political system and society. New Zealand politics is also open to LGTBQA and recently more aware of ethnic diversity. Women in New Zealand are also very active in civil society organisations such as New Zealand National Women Council, charity works, providing support for government initiative in literary, teaching English to new immigrants and refugees, providing care, social services, translations and others. Their wide participation in civil society organisations and movements provides women with multiple platforms to negotiate their demands with any government.The role of Maori women in New Zealand anti-colonial movement as anther foundation of gender equality in the country should be celebrated. From Ākenehi Tōmoana, who raised awareness and demanded the right to vote in 1893 to Merata Mita, the Māori filmmaker who de-colonised New Zealand movie industry in 1960s, a long line of Māori women activists worked nationally and internationally to raise awareness about indigenous rights and decolonisation. The positive impact of their efforts in gender equality is fundamental in New Zealand political culture.It is widely believed that women’s strength often comes from their emotionality. Considering the power of a political leader based on emotions, according to the approach of some researchers, we can conclude that the emotional message of political leaders can conduce to success only if there is consistency between verbal communication and non-verbal determinants of emotions. How does revealing her own emotions by Prime Minister affect New Zealanders especially in times of uncertainty?There are some consistencies and some differences in Jacinda’s leadership style in comparison to previous Prime Ministers. As the Prime Minister of a social welfare state and the leader of the Labour Party, Jacinda’s policies are in-line with her predecessors in terms of providing social services, investing in healthcare and education and support the lower economic groups. The traditional political culture of the Labour Party in New Zealand is based on fairness and this allows Jacinda and her predecessors to be flexible in the way they shape their cabinets ethnically and professionally. The difference between her government and the previous ones is, however, in her very approachable and empathetic leadership style.It well could be the case that other Labour Party leaders would provide the services that Jacinda did to New Zealand Muslim community following the 15th March or during the Covid-19 response to the nation. She, however, is not apologetic to talk about empathy as being one of the rationales for her decisions. She is, in fact, one of the first leaders in the world who has been talking about kindness and empathy in her decision making comfortably. In both cases, in difficult times, her empathetic responses were translated in policies, either in the case of Covid-19 response and the financial aid packages that her spoke about in her media briefs and in the case of the Muslim community following the attack. In both cases, she was personally involved in most of the procedures and had oversight on operations.Another influential woman, the predecessor of Ardern, Prime Minister Helen Clark, said that people feel that Ardern ‘doesn’t preach at them; she’s standing with them’. How do you measure the methods and tools such as Facebook Live chats frequently used by the Prime Minister to communicate with people?PM Ardern is a great communicator and her honest responses to media, her live facebook chats with people contribute significantly to the effectiveness of her leadership. This is partly due to the spread and accessibility of social media platforms and partly due to the nature of online social media, which has made her a very accessible politician. Her Facebook live chats are also very interesting to people as often she provides some backgrounds to the place from which she is broadcasting and that familiarise people with the every day work of the government. Even in liberal democracies, people who live outside capitals or even outside of the political system, have less connection with the every day work of the government. In addition to being an effective strategy, it also increases the government’s transparency and make it more accountable.Standing with people, in Rt Hon Clark’s comment is to be discussed in a larger context. Since Jacinda has been Prime Minister, New Zealand has gone through two major crises that shook New Zealand to its core. In both of these cases she has taken the leadership responsibility and has been in constant contact with various communities. When New Zealand went to Level 1 and the threat of a national pandemic was eliminated, she began her travels to different parts of the country to listen to business communities and others who are financially effected by Covid-19 to find a solution for its economic impact. It was also very strategic of her to ask the leader of the National Party, Simon Bridges, as the head of the economic committee for Covid-19 response. His poor performance on the committee comparing to the ways Jacinda was leading the national response strategy, was one of the factors that resulted in his resignation.Her Facebook live chat has made Jacinda a social media figure and this extends her outreach beyond New Zealand borders. Her style of leadership, for instance, is praised highly in Australia, in Asia and the Middle East. For instance, a photo of her embracing a member of the Muslim community in Christchurch was displayed in Khalifa Tower in Dubai and her speech on the future of environment was viewed by many activists around the world.It cannot be denied that because of its geographical location, New Zealand was in a favorable position to snuff out the virus. So what helped more to eliminate the virus: sitting on the periphery of the world or Ardern’s government decisive and immediate actions such as a national lockdown, ban on travelling from China in early February as well as closing borders to all nonresidents in mid-March?I think it was the result of all of these factors. All of these decisions were made because she decided to listen to New Zealand healthcare experts and scientists. Two days before the lockdown, health experts warned that if the country would not go to a nation-wide lockdown, the number of people infected would increase exponentially. This would result in unprecedented number of deaths and would cause a huge burden on the country’s health system. Acting fast and hard was the only solution at the time. It is correct that New Zealand had the advantage to be isolated geographically but being a small island also means that the pandemic could cause a significant loss, had the government not being able to contain it.Acting fast and hard advantaged New Zealand in a longer term. While a month of national lockdown was costly to the government in short-term, it allowed the government to open the country without fear of pandemic later on. This meant creating a buffer-zone for small businesses. Nearly all New Zealand businesses and industries have been impacted financially by the virus, but the fast lockdown facilitated the opening of hospitality industry, sport competitions, schools, universities in a shorter time. Since June 2020, New Zealand has returned to normal, but the borders are still closed to everyone but New Zealand citizens and residents. Jacinda’s critiques (including John Key) argue that the borders should be open to international students (with 14 days compulsory quarantine) for the country to survive financially.Jacinda Ardern’s empathetic leadership style is distinguished by a high level of social trust. She introduced helpful concepts, such as thinking of “the people [who] will be in your life consistently over this period of time” as your “bubble” and “acting as though you already have COVID-19” toward those outside of your bubble. What is the source of this compassionate approach?Jacinda began her political career soon after finishing her study. Her father is a police officer and her mother is a teacher. In both her personal and her professional life, she has encountered many cases in which people get treated badly even in a good governing system. In order to protect people, we not only need good policies but also need empathetic and kind politicians to develop them. Even this step is not enough, and the idea of kindness and empathy need to also be initiated in social culture, the way people interact with each other and how they think about those in need.For instance, while New Zealand has an improving record in race relations, it is still suffering from racism. It is not clear to what degree messages like “be kind” could support changes in New Zealand culture without some supportive policies but in the time of Covid and when the world is facing its ugliest face, reminding people to be kind to each other and connect is crucially important.The coronavirus pandemic may be the largest test of political leadership the world has ever witnessed. Although Ardern has already passed many tests of her strength during her first term of office, which you have already mentioned, let me just add that she was also the second woman in the world who gave birth to a child while performing the duties of prime minister. Do you think being a woman leader, whose number does not exceed 7% of all world leaders, in such dangerous times is more difficult than being a man leader?It is always difficult to be a woman leader. It is however true to say that at this time, women have more challenges to fact. Nearly all major powers in the United Nations Security Council are men. As countries become more security-orientated and threatened they become more patriarchal and less accepting of female leaders, particularly if they promote empathy and kindness and raise awareness about environmental security.Although the real power of a leader is in the support they receive from their people, regardless of their gender. Jacinda knows that the majority of people are supportive of her policies and that gives her confidence in international relations. In fact, her style of leadership has proven to be very successful.Prime Minister Ardern rebels against criticism that call her not „aggressive enough or assertive enough” which would suggest that as an empathic person she is weak. However, does the fact that the Prime Minister only demoted but did not sack David Clark, the New Zealand health minister, for breaching strict nationwide isolation rules, not support this claim? This lockdown has been the target of strong criticism from some opposition politicians and public health experts who described it as an overreacting government response to a pandemic. Have specific decisions and recent government actions revealed any weaknesses of Jacinda Ardern?The lockdown was supported by the Ministry of Health and Prime Ministers are to trust their ministries recommendations. The oppositions against these decisions were less determined to continue when New Zealand moved from level 4 to level 3 and then level 2. The PM did not sack the Minister of Health during the level 4 and 3 because of his expertise and connections with different communities. He was sacked later on. PM received some criticism for not sacking David Clack immediately after he breached the lockdown but Jacinda held her ground and allowed the minister until the country moved to a lower level of threat.Every politician has weaknesses. In her case, it may be more about centralisation of power in the state, which was very understandable during the lockdown. Her government also promised building houses to address the shortage of houses but has not able to fulfil its promise. In general, as a politician she has an excellent track record and she listens to her team and respects their expertise.One of the potentially negative results of the fast and encompassing lockdown was giving more executive power to New Zealand Police and New Zealand Defence Force who have been responsible to secure the mandatory quarantine facilities. It could result also in adopting a more punitive approach towards politics by the government with more power in the hand of security apparatus of the state. Saying this, her actions have gained her a lot of support and New Zealand Police’s powers had been anticipated under New Zealand health act since the act was passed in the parliament. As the result of her actions she has received the highest support in media polls as a leader in New Zealand history. It is very important not to forget that behind her success, there is a team of professional and dedicated people whose roles are often undermined.According to 2019 Believability and based on a poll of 1400 Australians in May 2019, Jacinda Ardern was declared as the most trusted politician in Oceania. This one of the most recent studies actually showed that not only women had achieved the highest level of trust (the top four choices are all women), but also that Ardern became the most trusted politician in competition with her male counterparts. Taking into account the current „Jacinda-mania”, was this result a surprise?To a degree, yes. Julia Gillard had a difficult time in Australia’s parliament and often spoke publicly about the harassments she received on regular bases. As a global medium power, a close ally of the United States, and a more security-centric state than New Zealand, such an endorsement of a young female leaders in Australia was surprising. I think, however, that we need to read such overwhelming support in the context of the human security-orientated approach that Jacinda has adopted in her government.In the last couple of decades, Australia has suffered from continuous draught, deadly bushfires and loss of coral reef, all of which are non-traditional human security threats. The demands of the farmers often are undermined and as the result many farmers lost their livelihood and belongings. This has caused a negative impact in the level of confidence in Australian government. It is fascinating to follow up with Australian politics if the NZ-Australian bobble starts to operate. While Jacinda is very popular amongst Australians, this is not necessarily the case for Australian politicians. Since the beginning of her government, Jacinda had some disagreements with Australia’s deportation policies and has been very open in her critiques.Jacinda describes herself as a progressive social democrat but above all she is a feminist. Before the introduction of 26 weeks of paid parental leave in July 2020, New Zealand’s parliament in March 2019 passed a bill that had been issued by Ardern’s government decriminalising abortion and allowing women to choose a termination up to 20 weeks into a pregnancy. How does she deal with issues that are particularly controversial?There are some decisions that are hers and some are that of the Parliament’s. The change in abortion law was the result of extensive lobbying by pro-choice group. It is now an exclusively healthcare matter and not a decision for politicians to make. This could be a good strategy for abating political debates-often amongst men leaders- about women’s body and reproductive organs in other countries too. De-politicisation of abortion was the key to its success.Jacinda, often resolves these issues by discussions and engaging with people’s comments and ideas. Except in few cases, she is very able to read the aptitude for the society prior to proposing a bill. This is also reflected in the way the two referendums in 2020 are communicated with people. Both issues of euthanasia and legalisation of cannabis are put into a referendum in 2020 and their passing will be decided by direct engagement of the people. To summarise, if a case requires a national approval, it will be posed as a question in a referendum. If it is a matter of Parliament’s decision, it is announced and consulted prior to approval. It will be interesting to see how New Zealand vote in this referendum and how does Jacinda deal with the consequences of the referendum.Meanwhile, the Prime Minister will have to prove her effectiveness once again, cause a great depression seems all but inevitable. Considering such elements as insufficient knowledge, risk and uncertainty as well as sense of urgency, crisis decision-making differ from strategic decision-making. What are Ardern’s ideas for getting through this crisis especially in the area of public health and national security?We are certainly affected by Covid-19 and its economic impacts, even if New Zealand does not have a pandemic at hand. New Zealand is a trading country and heavily relies on the ability and functionality of the international market as well as the sea transport system in order to export its goods. Any change in the global market’s stability, has its ripple effect on New Zealand. Thus, many of our industries have suffered from closing the broader and limiting shipment. New Zealand also needs costumers for its products and a sea-line of communication even if it can function without the fear of Covid. In addition, some of our most profitable industries such as tourism and hospitality have been badly affected by the closed borders. These include tourism and its associated industries, hospitality, tertiary education system and many others.The size of New Zealand economy is very small and such economic shocks could cause major damage to our economic security. In order to address this issue, or at least minimize its effect the government began by a support package for three months to all businesses.Jacinda’s plan is to think positively about the situation. She has adopted a multi-dimensional strategy in three stages. The first was to avoid the failing of small businesses and that was achieved by providing all businesses that required support with three months of financial aids. The second strategy is to communicate, particularly listen to, small business across the country. This gives people confidence that Jacinda’s government have been supporting them and will provides the government with a unique opportunity to know about the type of support they need to provide for businesses. The third strategy is to think innovatively. For instance, New Zealand is now in the position to hold important sport events in stadiums with their supporters and this alone could bring a significant profit to the country. I hope I am not presenting an oversimplified and over-optimist view of the future as I understand the weight of such a depression on people and governments but what I particularly like about Jacinda’s approach is her positivity and determination to make New Zealand and the world a better place. She is truly an idealist and optimist leader, something that we desperately need in the world politics that is dominated by agism, sexism, and dystopian politics.Komentarzdr Justyna Eska-MikołajewskaPrzywództwo premier Jacindy Ardern w Nowej Zelandii na tle obecnych wyzwań polityczno- ustrojowych, w tym zagrożeń związanych z pandemiąJacinda Ardern, najmłodsza od 1856 r. i trzecia kobieta piastująca urząd premiera, uznawana jest za jedną z najskuteczniejszych przywódczyń w historii Nowej Zelandii. Siła szefowej rządu ujawniła się szczególnie podczas pandemii. Walka z COVID-19 w Nowej Zelandii zakończyła się zniesieniem wszelkich obostrzeń już na początku czerwca b.r., z pozostawieniem jedynie zamkniętych granic dla wszystkich poza obywatelami i mieszkańcami państwa. Paradoksalnie w czasie, gdy rząd wprowadził jedne z najsurowszych na świecie środków celem ograniczenia negatywnych skutków koronawirusa, popularność szefowej rządu wzrosła. „Jacinda-mania” to określenie stworzone przez Nowozelandczyków na opisanie zjawiska, które wiąże się z uzyskaniem przez Ardern miana najbardziej popularnej premier w tym stuleciu.Celem wywiadu z dr Negar Partow, starszym wykładowcą w Centrum Studiów Bezpieczeństwa i Obrony na Uniwersytecie Massey w Wellington, Nowa Zelandia, było przedstawienie stylu przywództwa Jacindy Ardern; elementów, które się na niego składają oraz warunków, w jakich się kształtował. Pozwoliło to na zbadanie, jak bardzo styl Ardern różni się od modeli przywództwa jej poprzedników, a także na podjęcie próby przewidzenia tego, jak obecna szefowa rządu poradzi sobie ze skutkami pandemii.Chociaż bezpośrednio objęcie urzędu premiera przez Jacindę Ardern we wrześniu 2017 r. umożliwiła decyzja lidera Partii Najpierw Nowa Zelandia, Winstona Petersa, o utworzeniu koalicji z Partią Pracy, na czele której stała wówczas Ardern, możliwe jest uchwycenie szerszego kontekstu jej dojścia do władzy. Według Dr Negar Partow należy zwrócić uwagę na „transformacyjny sposób, w jaki młode kobiety podchodzą do polityki”, co stanowi „(…) szczęśliwy wynik dziesięcioleci edukacji kobiet i potomków wszystkich wspaniałych dzieł, o które walczyły poprzednie pokolenia feministek”. Umieszczając premier w centrum rozważań na tle sytuacji społeczno-politycznej, Partow wysnuła wniosek, że Ardern „reprezentuje nowe pokolenie kobiet, które są zainteresowane zmianą świata na lepsze, myśleniem o ludziach, krytycznym myśleniem o globalnym kapitalizmie oraz konsumpcjonizmie i jego wpływie na ludzi”.Do głównych elementów stylu przywództwa Jacindy Ardern, badaczka zaliczyła „równy podział bogactwa, ochronę ubogich, stwarzanie możliwości rozwoju, empatię i życzliwość”. Według Partow, empatyczna forma przywództwa bazuje na wykorzystaniu emocji, jednak nie „w sensacyjnej polityce”, lecz w tej „prawdziwej, przejrzystej i odpowiedzialnej”. Jacinda jest przedstawicielką nowego pokolenia przywódców, którzy domagają się fundamentalnej zmiany w sposobie prowadzenia polityki. Przyczyn takiego podejścia doszukiwać się można w dość wczesnym rozpoczęciu przez Ardern kariery politycznej i uświadomienia sobie potrzeby stworzenia systemu, w którym empatia stanie się jednym z filarów realizowanej polityki. Analizując uwarunkowania społeczno-kulturowe dla politycznego przywództwa, Negar Partow wskazała na historyczne podłoże zjawiska, które „częściowo wynikało z konieczności wojny oraz problemów, z którymi kobiety musiały się borykać pod nieobecność mężczyzn”. Obecnie kobiety są społecznie i politycznie bardzo aktywne w różnego rodzaju organizacjach i ruchach społeczeństwa obywatelskiego, a ich zaangażowanie na wielu szczeblach struktury państwowej potwierdza fakt, że od 1997 r. „(…) trzech na pięciu premierów w Nowej Zelandii to kobiety”. Partow uwypukliła znaczenie postaw i działań Maorysek, formułując tezę, że ich wysiłki na rzecz równości płci mają „fundamentalne znaczenie dla kultury politycznej Nowej Zelandii”.W stylu przywództwa Jacindy Ardern dostrzec można pewne podobieństwa w porównaniu do jej poprzedników, zwłaszcza jeśli uwzględni się tradycyjną kulturę polityczną nowozelandzkiej Partii Pracy. Natomiast to, co Ardern wyróżnia na ich tle, to przede wszystkim przystępność i empatia, będąca czynnikiem motywacyjnym jej postawy. Pozwala to wyjaśnić szczegóły rozmaitych procesów podejmowania przez nią decyzji. Na podkreślenie zasługuje osobiste zaangażowanie premier, przejmowanie odpowiedzialności i bezpośredni nadzór nad wieloma operacjami, w trakcie których pozostawała w stałym kontakcie z różnymi społecznościami.Było to możliwe w dużej mierze dzięki temu, że stała się bardzo dostępnym politykiem. Komunikowanie się z ludźmi poprzez czaty na żywo na Facebooku uczyniły ją postacią z mediów społecznościowych. W opinii Partow, ma to nie tylko znaczenie informacyjne, przybliżając ludziom codzienną pracę rządu, ale także „jest skuteczną strategią, zwiększa również przejrzystość rządu, czyniąc go bardziej odpowiedzialnym”.Mimo, że urzędująca premier już kilkakrotnie, m.in. w związku z atakiem terrorystycznym z 15 marca 2019 r. czy w czasie erupcji Białej Wyspy w grudniu 2019 r., zmuszona była wykazać swoją siłę lidera, to pandemia koronawirusa może okazać się największym testem przywództwa politycznego, jaki świat kiedykolwiek musiał przejść. Nie da się zaprzeczyć, że Nowa Zelandia była w uprzywilejowanej sytuacji, co wynika z jej odizolowania geograficznego, jednakże bycie niewielkim krajem, jak podkreśla Partow, jeszcze bardziej naraża na straty w porównaniu do większych państw. Dlatego też badaczka jest przekonana, że „szybkie i zdecydowane działanie zapewniło Nowej Zelandii długoterminową korzyść”.Premier musiała podejmować wiele decyzji, które z jednej strony zapewniły jej poparcie i szacunek, z drugiej zaś naraziły na krytykę. Jako postępowa socjaldemokratka, a przede wszystkim feministka, dążyła do tego, aby płatny urlop rodzicielski wydłużyć do 26 tygodni, co udało się dokonać w lipcu 2020 r. Nie ma wątpliwości, że kwestia ta leżała na sercu samej Jacindy Ardern, drugiej kobiety na świecie, która urodziła dziecko, pełniąc obowiązki premiera. Wcześniej, w marcu 2019 r., nowozelandzki parlament przyjął inicjowaną przez rząd ustawę, dekryminalizującą aborcję i zezwalającą na przerwanie ciąży do 20 tygodnia. Kolejne dwa referenda w sprawie eutanazji oraz legalizacji marihuany zostaną przeprowadzone we wrześniu 2020 r. Negar Partow zwraca uwagę na sposób informowania społeczeństwa przez Ardern o tych wydarzeniach oraz rozwiązywanie drażliwych problemów „poprzez dyskusje i angażowanie się w komentarze i pomysły ludzi”, tym bardziej, że „potrafi [ona] bardzo dobrze odczytać predyspozycje społeczeństwa przed zaproponowaniem projektu ustawy”.Jak zaznacza Partow, krytyczne opinie, jak te, odnoszące się do kwestii zamknięcia granic dla studentów zagranicznych, mogłyby dotyczyć także centralizacji władzy w państwie na skutek wprowadzenia narodowej kwarantanny czy zapowiadanej przez rząd obietnicy budowy domów w celu rozwiązania problemu ich niedoboru. Badaczka przyznaje, że w efekcie nadania szerszego zakresu uprawnień policji i siłom obrony w trakcie kwarantanny, rząd miał warunki do przyjęcia bardziej represyjnego podejścia do polityki, dysponując większą władzą w ręku aparatu bezpieczeństwa państwa”. Partow podkreśla jednak, że działania podejmowane przez premier były popierane, a szerszych uprawnień policji spodziewano się od momentu wejścia w życie ustawy o reagowaniuna sytuację zagrożeniazdrowia publicznego w związku z pandemią koronawirusa w maju b.r.Zgodnie z oceną Partow, „rzeczywistą siłą lidera jest wsparcie, jakie otrzymuje od swoich ludzi, niezależnie od ich płci”, a nowozelandzka premier ma świadomość tego, że przeważająca część społeczeństwa popiera jej politykę. W obliczu wyzwania, jakim jest pandemia, „państwa stają się w wyższym stopniu zorientowane na bezpieczeństwo, a przy tym bardziej patriarchalne i mniej akceptują kobiety w roli przywódców”. Przed przedstawicielkami płci żeńskiej, stanowiącymi około 7% światowych liderów, stoi zatem szczególnie trudne zadanie, zwłaszcza, gdy jak dodaje Partow „promują empatię i życzliwość oraz podnoszą świadomość na temat bezpieczeństwa ekologicznego”.Współczujące podejście oparte na determinacji i życzliwości oraz wprowadzenie pomocnych koncepcji, takich jak np. stworzenie małej „bańki” najbliższych osób celem zapobieżenia przenoszenia koronawirusa, pozwoliło Ardern odnieść sukces. Jednak dla Partow mechanizm tego efektu polega na tym, aby „idea dobroci i empatii została zainicjowana w kulturze społecznej; sposobie, w jaki ludzie wchodzą ze sobą w interakcje i jak myślą o potrzebujących”. Badaczka uważa, że komunikaty w rodzaju „bądź uprzejmy” mogłyby, zwłaszcza przy wsparciu jakiejś konkretnej polityki, zainicjować zmiany np. w obrębie stosunków rasowych.Jacinda Ardern otrzymała najwyższe poparcie w historii Nowej Zelandii. Zasięg jej popularności wykracza znacznie poza granice kraju – Australijczycy w 2019 r. uznali ją najbardziej zaufanym politykiem w Oceanii. Negar Partow przyznaje, że tak duże poparcie dla młodej przywódczyni było zaskakujące, lecz należy je odczytać „w kontekście zorientowanego na bezpieczeństwo człowieka podejścia, które Jacinda przyjęła w swoim rządzie”. Poza Australią jej styl przywództwa jest wysoko ceniony także w Azji i na Bliskim Wschodzie. Na tej podstawie można sądzić, że stała się przywódcą inspirującym i bardzo popularnym w światowych mediach, o czym świadczy zjawisko „Jacinda-manii”.Premier podbiła serca i umysły wielu Nowozelandczyków, zwłaszcza od czasu wybuchu pandemii, która jak podkreśla Negar Partow, cały czas wpływa na Nowa Zelandię i powoduje skutki gospodarcze. To małe wyspiarskie państwo, które w dużym stopniu polega na zdolności i funkcjonalności rynku międzynarodowego oraz systemu transportu morskiego w związku z eksportem swoich towarów. Stąd też, jak zauważa badaczka „każda zmiana w stabilności rynku globalnego odbija się na Nowej Zelandii”.Dążąc do przezwyciężenia nieuchronnego kryzysu z powodu pandemii Covid-19, Jacinda Ardern przyjęła wielowymiarową strategię, która realizowana jest w trzech etapach. Celem pierwszego było „uniknięcie upadku małych firm, co zostało osiągnięte poprzez zapewnienie wszystkim firmom wymagającym wsparcia trzymiesięcznej pomocy finansowej”. Druga faza obejmuje „komunikowanie się, a zwłaszcza słuchanie, małych firm w całym kraju”. Partow dostrzega w tym możliwość uzyskania przez rząd wiedzy, jakiego wsparcia faktycznie małe przedsiębiorstwa oczekują. Trzecim stadium jest natomiast myślenie innowacyjne.W podejściu Jacindy Ardern do tego największego z dotychczasowych wyzwań, Partow szczególnie ceni „pozytywne nastawienie i determinację, aby uczynić Nową Zelandię i świat lepszym miejscem”. Według badaczki, urzędująca premier to „przywódczyni prawdziwie idealistyczna i optymistyczna”, której obecność na scenie politycznej jest w stanie przeciwstawić się takim zjawiskom, jak dyskryminacja ze względu na wiek, seksism czy dystopijna polityka. Rząd Ardern wyraża wartości i aspiracje, których w opinii Partow „tak rozpaczliwie potrzeba w światowej polityce”, a które – zgodnie ze sztandarowym hasłem realizowanej przez Jacindę polityki – są w stanie uczynić Nową Zelandię najlepszym miejscem do życia.