New Zealand’s prime minister said she is “infuriated” that her immigration policies are being compared to those of US President Donald Trump.
Jacinda Ardern, who at 37 is the world’s youngest leader and the only pregnant head of state, said she is upset about the implication she has something in common with Mr Trump and the planned Mexico border wall while on NBC’s Today show. “We are a nation built on immigration — I’m only a third-generation New Zealander,” she said on the programme. “The suggestion in any way that New Zealand wasn’t an open, outward-facing country — the suggestion that I was leading something counter to that value — makes me extremely angry”.
The assertion appeared to start with a September 2017 article in the Wall Street Journal. The piece itself did not directly compare Mr Trump and Ms Ardern, as the Washington Post reported. But, a tweet promoting the story did. It read: “Meet New Zealand’s Justin Trudeau—except she’s more like Trump on immigration”.
The report said that her “rapid ascent owes much to tapping into growing unease about affordability, particularly among young voters, and feeding off a global backlash over immigration”.
An opinion piece in the newspaper suggested that those outside of Wellington mischaracterising her Deputy Prime Minister as “far-right” in the same sense as many in the US speak about Mr Trump’s supporters. It may have been this that has led the comparison of the two drastically different leaders. Ms Ardern and her party have actually pledged to double the number of refugees the country will accept as opposed to Mr Trump’s travel ban, border wall, and restrictions on legal immigration policies.
Ms Ardern, who belongs to the centre-left Labour Party, won her seat through forming a coalition with NZ First, a nationalist right-wing party. Though leaning towards the right, the party also fought to raise minimum wages and touts “interventionist” economic policies.
NZ First’s leader Winston Peters, who is now Deputy Prime Minister, has also been compared to the US leader for his less-than-friendly relationship. He has also been accused of being racist and making what the Washington Post called “crass jokes” about Asian immigrants to the small island nation. He will take over duties when Ms Ardern goes on maternity leave later in the year for six weeks.
Ms Ardern is expecting her first child this June with her partner, Clarke Gayford.