Jacinda Ardern and Gordana Jankuloska

Jacinda Ardern and Gordana Jankuloska
Jacinda Ardern is New Zealand's Prime Minister, soon to be 40 years old. She came to power last autumn, after the September election. It is a phenomenon in politics in a place that is called "Down Under," which is mainly Australia, but also New Zealand. She was elected leader of the Labor Party on August 1, 2017, after the previous president reached the lowest possible historical level in the polls and had to resign. In a month and a half, until the September 23 election, she managed to create a political atmosphere of success, and only success, in the island state, which led the party from a certain loser to the runner-up in the 46-seat election, against the first in the vote, the National Party with 56 places. In the wake of the formation of the coalition government, Ardern showed all her knowledge (for which, at one time, she was a political adviser to then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair) and managed to convey the unstoppable wave among voters at the negotiating table, so the two smaller parties renounced the love of the winner of the election and agreed to back the minority government of Jacinda Ardern.

The prime minister won over the New Zealand inhabitants, and slightly subdued them with her directness, when she announced that she was pregnant for the first time. Her due date is approaching, by the middle of this month. More than 800 newspapers and magazines worldwide reported the news of her pregnancy. In the masculine world, one pregnant prime minister's pregnancy during her term in office was supposed to be a matter of serious concern. The last time this happened was with Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan in 1990. Will she, in her adult years, be able to respond to the difficult demands of her office, whether she will take maternity leave, who will take care of the first-born in the relationship with her partner? In the "baby-mania" that took over New Zealand, Ardern responded calmly to her daily routine.

"I’m pregnant, not incapacitated," Ardern said, placing his personal story within the normal life of any expecting woman. She explains that she gets warm greetings when she comes out of her house, but says: "I am aware that not everyone in New Zealand is happy with my pregnancy. I have to work to prove that I can fulfill the responsibilities that I have, and I absolutely plan to do this, and so does the government."

"Politics may seem very distant from people's daily lives, but Ardern's pregnancy reflects that politics is a real exercise that allows people to connect with the political world," says Jennifer Curtin, Auckland University Professor of Politics.

Some journalists asked Ardern to take a six-month absence, instead of six weeks she announced, suggesting she would not be able to cope with her challenge as a mother. Yesterday, Ardern said she would serve as prime minister and travel until the moment she arrives at the hospital for child delivery.

It seems as if nothing has changed in New Zealand, although it has changed a lot. After Ardern and her partner announced that they were expecting their first baby, the news still dominates the news, columns and radio talk shows. Due to the public's enormous desire for all possible details of this incredible case in politics, Jacinda Ardern occasionally shares some personal details. So, recently in a television show she revealed that she found out about her pregnancy after fighting with her partner. They started a quarrel whether he would come to the capital Wellington from the other end of the island, where he was filming a fishing show, to be beside her when the announcement of who would form the future government came. "Later in the evening, when I received the results of the tests, I thought, 'Oh, God, I will have to call him again.' He was in one of those portable toilets when I told him the news."

This may seem like an interesting story from the land of the Kiwi and Maori. Nothing more than that for some. But it basically shows the change of the political world in a built democracy and the participation of the citizens in it in a different way. Could this have connection with Gordana Jankuloska's pregnancy and her epistolary exchange with two ministers about her rights as the mother of the child she expects. In many things, of course - no, but in many other things - yes. Both women are at an age when pregnancy can be risky. Both expect their babies at the same time. Both are politicians, one present and one, for the time being, former. Both of them have a shared interest in their pregnancy. But their social position is different. Jacinda Ardern is at a peak of her political upheaval, Gordana Jankuloska is in the court twilight of the processes that are taking place against her for various abuses since the time she was the interior minister. Of course, no pregnancy is the same. Perhaps Ardern takes her pregnant state easily, and Jankuloska has trouble carrying her baby to term.

But, ultimately, the question that arises is whether the expected maternity will be a mitigating or aggravating circumstance for a woman. For a woman like Ardern, it is a moment in which it should be shown that this is only a natural state, while in Jankuloska, with the difficult thoughts about possible prison sentences, it is more a call for the compassion of justice, which should assess whether she did works that prosecutors suspect. And in some way get public sympathy. To receive the compassion that many accused women during the time she was a minister did not receive during their trials, although they were in the same situation as she is.

Lawyers say that all are equal before the law. But this legal principle turns into an empty phrase, because the attitude towards Jankuloska's epistolary addresses should be directed to the basic question in the judiciary - whether justice should be compassionate. It is clear that Jankuloska in her defense will serve with all the mechanisms that could be available to delay the processes. In one of them, the two defendants received prison sentences (one of them is former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski) for the procurement of "Mercedes", and the charge is on a higher level than that of her former boss in the government and party leader. Fear of a similar verdict is real and constant, and therefore Jankuloska's letter seems like an attempt to bring justice to be merciful, and to turn its head before the deeds written in the indictment. In this public search for salvation, or rather, delaying the decision to come, the key question is whether the court should sympathize with the health condition of the defendants. Should it be merciful in some way? What would become of a judicial system in which the processes will be conducted not according to the evidence, but according to the medical notices of pregnancy, back pains, laryngitis...

In this case, the former minister, who wanted to show steel determination during her term, even to determine the charges, now expects a kinder treatment from the court. For a mother who is expecting her firstborn, these months may look like months in hell, but the abuses and crimes for which she is blamed have been done long ago, at the time when she was supposed to think of the consequences. Perhaps Jankuloska was supposed to direct her epistolary exchange to her unborn child as the legendary Italian journalist and writer Oriana Fallaci in her extraordinary novel "Letter to a Child Never Born" in which she is explaining to the baby in her womb all the essential questions about life, freedom, love, birth and death. Then honesty would be able equate with motherhood, and not use motherhood as an excuse for forgetting one’s sins.

Ljupco Popovski

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