New Zealand Education Minister Chris Hipkins is set to replace Jacinda Ardern as prime minister after he became the only candidate to enter the contest on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

Hipkins, who was the country’s former Covid response minister, needs to be formally backed by his Labour Party colleagues on Sunday to become the country’s 41st prime minister.

On Thursday, Arden said she did not have “enough in the tank” to continue leading New Zealand. Her term will end no later than February 7 and a general election will be held on October 14.

Arden became prime minister as the head of a coalition government at the age of 37 in 2017. During her five and a half years in office, she was lauded globally for her handling of a white supremacist attack in 2019 and the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Saturday, Hipkins hailed his predecessor, saying she had been an incredible prime minister. “She was the leader that we needed at the time that we needed it,” the 44-year-old added.

While the Labour Party won re-election two years ago with an historic mandate, opinion polls have now put it behind the conservative National Party.

Hipkins, who is also the minister of public service and serves as Leader of the House, said that taking on the prime ministership would be “the biggest responsibility and the biggest privilege” his life.