Jacinda Ardern: Who is New Zealand's next prime minister?

Jacinda Ardern: Who is New Zealand's next prime minister?

Jacinda Ardern: Who is New Zealand's next prime minister?

Updated 19 October 2017, 23:15 AEDT

New Zealand's been in limbo for a month.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has announced he will form a coalition government with the Labour Party, making Jacinda Ardern the country's next prime minister.

So who is the woman set to take the top job?

She took the Labour Party job just a couple of months ago

Ms Ardern took over from Andrew Little in August in a unanimous vote.

It followed some pretty dire poll results.

At 37, Ms Ardern is the party's youngest ever leader.

Bur she's no political novice.

She's been an MP for the Auckland electorate of Mount Albert since 2008 and became deputy leader of the party back in March.

She grew up in the rural town of Morrinsville, on the country's North Island, and went on to live in the UK and worked as a public servant.

Jacindamania was a thing

After she took over the Labour Pary's leadership, she boosted its elections chances pretty quickly.

One month before she came on board Labour was polling at just 24 per cent.

Opinion polls before the New Zealand election were as high as 43 per cent.

The movement was quickly dubbed Jacindamania and it included slogan T-shirts, tote bags and plenty of memes.

And it attracted plenty of comparisons with other young world leaders like Canada's Justin Trudeau and France's Emmanuel Macron.

There were questions about her plans for motherhood…

Yep.

She'd been in the Labour leadership role for less than 24 hours when she was asked by television host Jesse Mulligan on the New Zealand version of The Project about how she would balance her career and potential motherhood.

"A lot of women in New Zealand feel like they have to make a choice between having babies and having a career, or continuing their career at a certain point in their lives — late 30s," he said.

"Is that a decision that you feel you have to make, or that you feel that you've already made?"

Ms Ardern replied that she had "no problem" with being asked the question.

However, she took objection to radio show panellist Mark Richardson saying employers "need to know that type of thing from the women you are employing".

"The question is, is it OK for a PM to take maternity leave while in office?" he said.

She had a swift and sharp response.

"… for other women it is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace," she said.

"It is unacceptable. It is a woman's decision about when they choose to have children.

"It should not predetermine whether they are given a job or have job opportunities."

So, what are her policies?

In her first televised debate Ms Ardern had some particularly strong things to say about housing and medical marijuana.

On housing, she said she wanted to make sure her generation could get into the market.

The country is currently facing a shortage.

She also said she would also consider legalising medical marijuana.

She's also made her stance on abortion clear, saying it should be decriminalised.

She's already had a run-in with the Australian Government

In August, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop accused Ms Ardern's party of undermining the Australian Government after it was revealed that enquiries had been made about Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce's citizenship.

Ms Ardern described Ms Bishop's comments as "false claims" and invited Ms Bishop to call her to "clarify matters".

But, later on Ms Ardern sought to clarify her comments.

"When the issue was raised on Australian soil that we had interfered, I was very quick to correct the record," she said.

"Our relationship with Australia is too important to let politics get in the way of it."

What does this mean for women in politics?

New Zealand politics expert and University of Wollongong research fellow André Brett said it was a good day for women in politics.

"This success furthers New Zealand's reputation for inclusive politics and the status of women," Dr Brett told ABC News.

"Sometimes that is taken internationally as more rosy and successful than it is on many measures.

"But nonetheless this means that come the next election 2020, New Zealand will have been led by women for a majority of the first two decades of the 21st century - [Helen] Clark for eight years and [Jacinda] Ardern, assuming she reaches the next election, for three.

"In particular it is a great victory for empowering younger women and younger people more broadly.

"She is New Zealand's second-youngest PM ever, and represents a major generational shift Edward Stafford, when his first of four terms began in 1856, was just 45 days younger."

What now?

Ms Ardern has offered the role of deputy prime minister to New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

The party will also hold four cabinet positions and a junior ministerial role.

She's also said she'll be travelling to Australia "as soon as I am able".

So how does it compare to Australian politics? Dr Brett said there were a few similarities.

"In terms of placing New Zealand First on the Australian political spectrum, Australians like to compare them to One Nation because they both have populist leaders who espouse anti-immigration policies," he said.

"But the comparison falls down quite quickly if you dig deeper.

"If the Palmer United Party had been more capable, they might afford a better comparison — but unlike Palmer's shambolic political persona and party, Winston is a consummate political operator and a true survivor, even his most bitter opponents will credit him with that."

Dr Brett said the coming months will make for interesting viewing.

"The real test is going to be what happens on the floor of parliament when it next sits, and what policy agenda the government proposes," he said.

"How far will New Zealand First pull Labour in their desired directions? And what of the Greens?

"Or will Jacinda resist either lure and possess the charisma and popularity to control the direction?

"The first parliamentary sitting will be fascinating."