Education Minister Chris Hipkins is set to become New Zealand's next prime minister after he was the only candidate to enter the contest Saturday to replace Jacinda Ardern, AP reports.

Hipkins, 44, must still get an endorsement Sunday from his Labour Party colleagues in Parliament but that is just a formality now.

Ardern shocked the nation of 5 million people Thursday when she announced she was resigning after five-and-a-half years in the top role.

The lack of other candidates indicated party lawmakers had rallied behind Hipkins to avoid a drawn-out contest and any sign of disunity following Ardern’s departure.

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