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New Zealand Names Prime minister

December 8, 1997

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) _ The nation that first gave women the right to vote got its first woman prime minister on Monday, when Jenny Shipley formally assumed office.

Shipley ousted Jim Bolger as head of the ruling conservative National Party one month ago. Bolger agreed to step aside when it became clear he would lose a fight over the party leadership.

Shipley named her Cabinet last Friday, promoting a group of economic hard-liners to key posts, including the ministries of health, welfare, education and commerce.

Shipley received Queen Elizabeth II’s assent to govern this Commonwealth nation in a short ceremony at Government House on Monday.

Shipley, a former social welfare minister, plans to focus on social policy. She triggered street marches when she slashed welfare supports in the early 1990s.

``Many people have high expectations of me,″ Shipley said Monday.

After the ceremony, she returned to Parliament to chair her first cabinet meeting as prime minister.

Before handing in his warrant of office, Bolger told reporters he felt ``a tinge of sadness″ at leaving. Government sources say Bolger will retire from Parliament next year to become New Zealand’s ambassador to the United States.

New Zealand became the first self-governing nation in the world where women had the right to vote after Parliament passed the Electoral Bill in 1893.

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