CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — No leader of New Zealand has possessed a profile like Jacinda Ardern’s. Her image has been projected onto the world’s tallest building, made the cover of Time magazine and reached an audience that far exceeds her country’s modest population.
Feted by progressives globally for compassionate and decisive responses to crises, she earned the nickname “the anti-Trump” for her embrace of multilateralism and liberal values.
Ardern is on course to comfortably win a second term in elections Saturday, with her Labour Party holding a double-digit lead over conservative National in surveys. Yet her record is more complicated than her reputation suggests, and the surge in her domestic popularity is a relatively recent phenomenon that will be tested amid a deep recession and against circumstances unprecedented in living memory.