Articulate, calm, compassionate, purposeful, open, bold, decisive, self-deprecating. That head-long dive into the Thesaurus of laudatory terms is often followed with glowing expressions such as “steely resolve,” “skilled communicator” and a “masterclass in crisis.”
All sound familiar? It should, for those were the same words and phrases used to describe New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after last year’s shock terrorist attack on two mosques in the South Island city of Christchurch that left 51 worshippers dead.
Then, the hug-friendly premier earned praise from Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation unused to hearing a Western leader showing such empathy towards Muslims, who represent a 1% minority among New Zealand’s 4.8 million people.
Now, Jacinda, as she is commonly known in New Zealand, is earning similar plaudits for her sensitive, but firm handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which nearly three weeks into a no-holds-barred lockdown is now widely perceived to be not only flattening the curve of infections, but crushing it.