WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Chris Hipkins was confirmed as New Zealand’s next prime minister on Sunday, choosing Carmel Ceproni as deputy prime minister.
Hipkins had the unanimous support of MPs from his Labor Party after he was the only candidate Entering the contest to replace Jacinda Ardern, who shocked the nation by announcing her resignation on Thursday 5+ years as a leader.
Hipkins will formally assume his new role on Wednesday. It’s less than nine months away.
The lack of another leader candidate showed that party lawmakers rallied in Mr. Hipkins’ support to avoid a protracted struggle and signs of discord after Mr. Ardern’s resignation.
In setting priorities, Hipkins said he knew many families were struggling because of an “inflationary pandemic” and that the economy would be central to the government’s thinking.
When asked if he would take the same transformative approach to government that President Ardern promised after he first won the top job, Hipkins said he wanted to go back to basics.
“We will have a very prudent government focused on fundamental issues that are important to New Zealanders and relevant to our times,” Hipkins said. “2017 was five and a half years ago. But a lot has happened since then.”
Like Hipkins, Ceproni first entered parliament 15 years ago and most recently served as one of the government’s top ministers, responsible for the social development and employment portfolios.
She said it was “very hard to imagine” that a “working class girl” from a small town in New Zealand could become deputy prime minister.
“I would like to acknowledge that this is important to our Pacific community,” Ceproni said. “I am proudly European from Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand and represent a generation of New Zealanders of diverse heritage.”
Sepuloni said he has already received many humble messages that another glass ceiling has been broken.
Opposition leader Christopher Luxon told reporters he had congratulated Hipkins in a text message. But Laxson said Hipkins and Ceproni were part of a government that “failed spectacularly” to get things done and that they would be the same after a change in leadership.