New Zealand's Labor Party moved quickly to agree on a new leader, making its choice two days after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation. Chris Hipkins, minister for education and policing, was nominated Saturday to succeed Ardern. His selection won't be official until the caucus votes Sunday, the Guardian reports, but Hipkins was the only candidate nominated as party leaders lobbied for a smooth transition. He has a tough road ahead to keep the job after the Oct. 14 elections: Polling released Friday but conducted before Ardern's announcement show Labor 5 percentage points behind the National Party.
Hipkins, who was first elected to Parliament in 2008, is best known for leading New Zealand's COVID-19 strategy, a job that had him appear alongside Ardern for weekly updates. Overall, per the AP, Hipkins is among the party's liberals who have long been overshadowed by the prime minister. It was Ardern who received global praise for the government's early handling of the pandemic, as well as Christchurch mosque shootings. Hipkins also received attention for a gaffe when, at a COVID press conference, he stumbled while trying to suggest people go outside to stretch their legs. (Read more New Zealand stories.)