How the bitter division of COVID tarnished a liberal icon

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Jacinda Ardern explained her decision to step down as New Zealand prime minister on Thursday with a plea for understanding and rare political directness — the same qualities that helped her become a global emblem of anti-Trump liberalism, then a target of the toxic divisions exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ardern, 42, held back tears when she announced at a press conference that she would step down in early February ahead of New Zealand’s October elections.

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“I know what this job demands, and I know I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice,” she said. “It’s that simple.”

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