New Zealand's progressive new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern strongly rejected President Donald Trump's assessment of her recent rise to power, according to her account of their first in-person meeting at the East Asia Summit last week.
After Trump said Ardern's win had "upset" many New Zealanders, the Labor Party leader remarked that "nobody marched" in response to her victory, as millions did all over the globe when Trump was inaugurated in January.
Ardern offered a full account of her meeting with Trump to New Zealand's Newsroom:
I was waiting to walk out to be introduced at the East Asia Summit gala dinner, where we all paraded and while we were waiting, Trump in jest patted the person next to him on the shoulder, pointed at me and said, 'This lady caused a lot of upset in her country,' talking about the election.
I said, 'Well, you know, only maybe 40 per cent,' then he said it again and I said, 'You know,' laughing, 'no one marched when I was elected.'
At 37, Ardern became New Zealand's second-youngest and third female prime minister in October, just three months after becoming the leader of the center-left party, when the head of the New Zealand First party announced he would support Ardern in a coalition government.
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A month earlier, New Zealand's election had resulted in a hung parliament, with the left-leaning contingent winning 54 seats and the center-right National Party gaining 56—falling short of the 61 needed for a parliamentary majority.
Many were surprised when the anti-immigration New Zealand First party, which won nine seats, threw its support behind Ardern's leadership, giving her enough seats to become prime minister.
During her election campaign earlier this year, Ardern focused largely on childhood poverty, environmental protection, and affordable housing.
Ardern has advocated for a drop in immigration to New Zealand by 20,000 to 30,000 per year, citing insufficient infrastructure and housing for a large influx of new arrivals. Currently, the country accepts about 70,000 annually. However, Adern also plans to double the country's refugee quotas and offered to resettle 150 refugees currently in detention centers on Australia's Manus Island, on humanitarian grounds.
The new prime minister was one of thousands of New Zealanders who participated in the Women's March the day after Trump's inauguration.