Helen Clark

Helen Clark, born in 1950, prime minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008. Born in Hamilton, Helen Elizabeth Clark studied politics at the University of Auckland, graduating with an MA degree in 1974. She later lectured in political studies at the same institution.

In 1971 Clark joined the Labour Party

In 1971 Clark joined the Labour Party, and she was president of the Labour Youth Council from 1973 to 1975. In 1981 she was elected to parliament for the constituency of Mount Albert in suburban Auckland. In 1987 she was elected to the Cabinet serving under David Lange, and during the next three years held various ministerial posts concerning conservation, housing, labor, and health. As Minister for Health, she was responsible for tobacco legislation, including restrictions on tobacco company sponsorship of sporting events. From August 1989 to October 1990, she was deputy prime minister in the government of Geoffrey Palmerthe first New Zealand woman to hold the position. The Labour government lost power to the National Party of James Bolger in the 1990 election.

After three years as deputy leader

After three years as deputy leader, Clark toppled Mike Moore as elected leader of the Labour Party after the party was defeated in the 1993 election. She served as leader of the opposition until the general election of November 1999, when Labour again took power, and she became New Zealand`s second female prime minister, succeeding Jenny Shipley. Clark appointed a diverse Cabinet, which included 11 women and 4 Maori. Her government demonstrated its liberal credentials by supporting Greenpeace in the disruption of Japanese whaling operations in February 2000, and by supporting legislation to create property rights for cohabiting homosexual and heterosexual couples equal to those of married couples.

On June 11

On June 11, 2002, frustrated by the opposition`s delaying tactics in passing new legislation, and the divisive internal disputes within the Alliance Party (Labour`s coalition partner), Clark called a general election for the following month, in which she secured a second term in office. In the general election held in September 2005, although Labour`s majority over the National Party was significantly reduced, Clark was elected to serve a third successive term as prime minister.

In parliamentary elections in 2008 Labour

In parliamentary elections in 2008 Labour lost its majority to the National Party, led by John Key. Clark resigned her leadership of the Labour Party and stepped down as prime minister. Although she personally retained high approval ratings among New Zealand voters, the Labour Party was impacted by an economic recession and a scandal involving the New Zealand First Party, which was part of Labour`s coalition.

Clark was awarded the annual Peace Prize

Clark was awarded the annual Peace Prize of the Danish Peace Foundation in 1986 for her work in promoting international peace and disarmament. In 2009 she was named administrator of the United Nations Development Program.

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