New Zealand’s New Prime Minister Calls Capitalism A ‘Blatant Failure’

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Above Photo: Lacinda Ardern receives a standing ovation as she arrives at Parliament after agreeing a deal to form a coalition government (Getty Images)

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New Zealand‘s new prime minister called capitalism a “blatant failure”, before citing levels of homelessness and low wages as evidence that “the market has failed” her country’s poor.

Jacinda Ardern, who is to become the nation’s youngest leader since 1856, said measures used to gauge economic success “have to change” to take into account “people’s ability to actually have a meaningful life”.

The 37-year-old will take office next month after the populist New Zealand First party agreed to form a centre-left coalition with her Labour Party. They will be supported by the liberal Greens.

New Zealanders had been waiting since 23 September to find out who would govern their country after national elections ended without a clear winner.

Ms Ardern has pledged her government will increase the minimum wage, write child poverty reduction targets into law, and build thousands of affordable homes.

In her first full interview since becoming prime minister-elect, she told current affairs programme The Nation that capitalism had “failed our people”.

“If you have hundreds of thousands of children living in homes without enough to survive, that’s a blatant failure,” she said. “What else could you describe it as?”

Incumbent prime minister Bill English, whose National Party has held power for nine years, has said his party grew the economy and produced increasing budget surpluses which benefited the nation.

But Ms Ardern said: “When you have a market economy, it all comes down to whether or not you acknowledge where the market has failed and where intervention is required. Has it failed our people in recent times? Yes.

“How can you claim you’ve been successful when you have growth roughly three per cent, but you’ve got the worst homelessness in the developed world?”

The Labour leader said her government would judge economic success on more than measures such as GDP.

Jacinda Ardern becomes the youngest female Prime Minister of New Zealand

“The measures for us have to change,” she said. “We need to make sure we are looking at people’s ability to actually have a meaningful life, an enjoyable life, where their work is enough to survive and support their families.”

Ms Ardern, who became Labour leader just two months ago, will be the youngest female premier of any developed economy in the world.

The leader of New Zealand First, Winston Peters, said his party had opted for change from the “status quo” as he announced his party would enter coalition with Labour instead of the National Party.

The Green Party will support the coalition but will not be part of the government.

  • tibetan cowboy

    She appears to be the only developed country’s leader with a heart. Goodness knows America has almost no such politicians in the administration or congress. America is running backwards while New Zealand sounds like one of the few progressive developed countries.

  • DHFabian

    America’s solution to our poverty crisis has been simple and efficient: ignore it. If we note poverty at all, even progressives define “the poor” as no one worse off than minimum wage workers. That’s odd, in a country that has lost millions of jobs. Regardless, by disappearing those who can’t work, and those for whom no jobs are available, the problem looks far more manageable.

  • DHFabian

    Yes, in matters like this, what the leaders actually think is less relevant than what the broader public wants. In the US, the broader public has grown more regressive, not progressive.

  • Dawn Wolfson

    Somebody new for the US’s regime change machine to look at…

  • Robert H. Stiver

    I think I like this lady and will follow her with great interest as her government takes hold and matures! I’d have her as my daughter, or my neighbor, or my PM (better yet, President) any day. President Ardern…ahh dernit, it just sounds so much better than President Trump.

  • A new generation with new idea’s – I hope she will serve as an inspiration.

  • Jay Hansen

    She is right, as far as she takes the argument. The market is indeed a terrible way to plan an economy, BUT underneath the visible market capitalism contains an engine which runs on the impounded surplus-value created by the working class which is accumulated by the capitalists by dint of “ownership”.