How to manage a party leadership handover
“Every new beginning is some other beginning’s end.” Semisonic
Last week Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation as Prime Minister of New Zealand. She will also hand over as Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, which he has led since August 2017. Leadership transitions are volatile and potentially dangerous periods for parties–but a change in leadership is also an opportunity to move the party forward, not just in the polls, but as an organisation.
To allow for something new to begin, something else has to end–and changing the equation sometimes means removing oneself from it (yes, that is a Tron: Legacy reference). But that is what political intrapreneurs do: they exhibit courage and agency, instead of sitting out their time in office.
Ensuring a smooth transition is a crucial leadership task, but in reality, it often goes wrong. Exits that are at the same time personally graceful as well as professionally managed are the exception, exits that are messy are the rule. A conscious break with this pattern is an effective intervention to regain trust, not just for one particular party, but for representative democracy as a whole.