‘Pol­i­tics is a Dif­fi­cult Place’, PM Jacinda Ardern Re­flects Af­ter Todd Muller’s Abrupt Res­ig­na­tion

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Todd Muller re­placed Si­mon Bridges as Na­tional Party leader in May. Yes­ter­day he re­signed.

He cited health rea­sons, and com­men­ta­tors in­clud­ing PM Jacinda Ardern have said pol­i­tics was a hard job. Mr Muller said the role has taken a “heavy toll on me per­son­ally, and on my fam­ily, and this has be­come un­ten­able from a health per­spec­tive”.

Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern has passed her best wishes on to Mr Muller and his fam­ily.

“No mat­ter what side of Par­lia­ment you’re sit­ting, pol­i­tics is a dif­fi­cult place,” she said.

In a state­ment, NZ First leader Win­ston Peters said there was a “heavy price of try­ing to lead the Na­tional Party today”.

He said Mr Muller was a good man who would bounce back. “Lead­ing a di­vided and in­com­pe­tent cau­cus would have tested even the best leader. Todd never had a chance given the fault lines of am­bi­tion, per­son­al­ity, and ide­ol­ogy that run deep through the Na­tional Party cau­cus.”

Massey Univer­sity pro­fes­sor and po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor Claire Robin­son said he was naive.

“I think it shows how com­pletely un­pre­pared he was for the role. He ob­vi­ously thought he was God’s gift to the Na­tional Party and tak­ing over from Si­mon Bridges ... and I think he thought it was go­ing to be so easy sim­ply to role out a whole lot of new poli­cies un­der his lead­er­ship and ev­ery­body would think: ‘Oh good, ev­ery­thing is okay now’.”

Po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Bryce Ed­wards said Mr Muller made a hor­ror start to the job.

“He’s had a ter­ri­ble month. He has never been able to take con­trol of the nar­ra­tive - the story around his own lead­er­ship. It re­ally looked like he had played the sit­u­a­tion very badly - his own party was los­ing con­fi­dence in him, the pub­lic was los­ing con­fi­dence ... so it is not sur­pris­ing.”

Palmer­ston North lawyer and con­ser­va­tive po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor Liam He­hir said: “No­body knows what’s go­ing on ... it’s bizarre and un­prece­dented.”

He said ev­ery­thing was spec­u­la­tion but “the only thing that is clear is what a dis­as­ter it is”.

The Na­tional Party would now meet to elect a con­sen­sus can­di­date, he said.

“There’s go­ing to be to­tal dis­agree­ment [given] how fast they have to move, about who that should be.” He­hir said it would be an op­por­tu­nity for Ju­dith Collins to put her hand up but there would be strong in­ter­nal op­po­si­tion to her lead­er­ship.

“I would think the best can­di­date would be some­body that no­body thinks would have long term lead­er­ship am­bi­tions ... like Gerry Brown­lee.”

It would be a chal­lenge for any­body who would take on the role so close to the elec­tion, he said.

“It’s only about sav­ing the fur­ni­ture now ... what is dis­as­ter con­trol? It’s not mov­ing for­ward, it’s stop­ping the bleed­ing.”

The Na­tional Party that was once por­trayed as a “co­he­sive re­sul­to­ri­ented party” was just a “myth” now. ACT Party leader David Sey­mour said he was sur­prised.

“Todd Muller is a hell of a nice guy.

Sey­mour said he had vast busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Be­ing a leader of a po­lit­i­cal party on the na­tional stage is an ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive and bruis­ing role. You just have to look at the hu­man side of pol­i­tics and say ‘he gave it a go, good on him’ and re­spect his de­ci­sion.”

He said from ACT’s point of view, Na­tional needed to pick a leader.

“I will have worked with five Na­tional lead­ers by the end of this week ... hope­fully not six by the end of this elec­tion.”

His role was to en­sure ACT was a big party so as to have a chance at chang­ing the govern­ment, he said.

Todd Muller re­signs as New Zealand’s Na­tional Party leader.

NZ Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern wishes Mr Muller well.

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