WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Chris Hipkins was confirmed as New Zealand’s next prime minister on Sunday, marking the start of his selection of Carmel Sepuloni as deputy prime minister. This is the first time a person of Pacific Island descent has been promoted to the position.
Hipkins gets unanimous support from Labor MPs as sole candidate Running to replace Jacinda Ardern, who shocked the nation when she announced her resignation on Thursday After more than five years as a leader.
Hipkins will be officially sworn in to his new role on Wednesday. He faces a tough general election in less than nine months, with opinion polls showing his party trailing its conservative opposition.
The lack of other leadership candidates suggests party lawmakers have rallied behind Hipkins to avoid a protracted contest and any signs of disunity after Ardern leaves.
Outlining his priorities, Hipkins said the economy would be at the center of his government’s considerations, knowing that many families were struggling due to an “inflation pandemic”.
Asked whether he would take the same transformative approach to government that Ardern had promised after winning the top job for the first time, Hipkins said he wanted to get back to basics.
“We’re going to have a very robust government that’s focused on the livelihood issues that matter to New Zealanders and are relevant to the times we live in,” Hipkins said. “2017 was five and a half years ago. , and a lot has happened since then.”
Like Hipkins, Ceproni first became a lawmaker 15 years ago and was most recently responsible for social development and employment as one of the government’s senior ministers.
She said it was “hard to imagine a working-class girl from a small New Zealand town” ending up as deputy prime minister.
“I want to acknowledge how important this is to our Pacific community,” Sepuloni said. “I am proudly Samoan, Tongan and New Zealand European, representing generations of New Zealanders of mixed ancestry.”
Sepuloni said she has received many depressing messages about another glass ceiling being broken.
Opposition Leader Christopher Luxon told reporters he had congratulated Hipkins via text message. But Mr Luxon said Hipkins and Sepuloni’s government had “failed so badly” to get the job done and that the situation would be much the same after a leadership change.