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HomeAus & NZJacinda Ardern resigns: Social media 'cesspit' blamed for growing threats, abuse towards...

Jacinda Ardern resigns: Social media ‘cesspit’ blamed for growing threats, abuse towards politicians

'Quick read' news summary

While Jacinda Ardern did not cite it as one of the reasons she is quitting politics, there is little doubt the prime minister has faced an increasingly violent and vitriolic rhetoric.

Ardern on Thursday shocked not just New Zealand, but the world, announcing she was stepping down as prime minister in February and as an MP altogether in April.

She gave a “simple” reason – not having enough left “in the tank to do the job justice” after handling – in just five years – “a major biosecurity incursion, a domestic terror attack, a volcanic eruption and a one-in-100-year global pandemic and ensuing economic crisis”.

Notably absent from that list was the growing level of abuse directed at politicians, particularly women.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon has clarified some of the comments he made about being “unsure” if women politicians suffered worse abuse from the public, saying he chose not to live on Twitter.

“I think there is an element of gendered abuse that happens with female politicians that is different from what we experience as men.

“What I’d say to you is the bigger issue, though, is we also have deep polarisation of politics emerging and it’s really important that we manage that appropriately.

“I don’t want to see New Zealand getting into a place where we have such deep, entrenched polarisation that we actually can’t still walk across the room and have a conversation with each other about taking the country forward.”

His deputy, Nicola Willis, said all politicians received their share of flak and abuse, and much of what she had faced had been gendered.

“It’s about having respectful debate. We can disagree with each other, but let’s attack the issue, not the person.”

Green Party co-leader

While Jacinda Ardern did not cite it as one of the reasons she is quitting politics, there is little doubt the prime minister has faced an increasingly violent and vitriolic rhetoric. Ardern on Thursday shocked not just New Zealand, but the world, announcing she was stepping down as prime minister in February and as an MP altogether in April. His deputy, Nicola Willis, said all politicians received their share of flak and abuse, and much of what she had faced had been gendered.

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