New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced his resignation earlier today. It is a move that has shocked many, especially after winning praises for his economic stewardship amid the global financial crisis and two devastating earthquakes around Christchurch. However, he said it was the right time to leave politics after staying at the top for more than eight years.
Key said he has no immediate future plans, but plans to remain in his parliament seat long enough to avoid a by-election. “There is no way I could have served out a full fourth term,” Key said at his weekly press conference in Wellington, citing family reasons for his departure.
Key has dominated New Zealand politics for years after winning three terms as prime minister, as well as leading the ruling National Party since 2006. He said he sacrificed everything for the role, which has also come as a sacrifice for his family. According to Key, his two children had faced "an extraordinary level of intrusion and pressure because of their father's job”.
When asked if he had any regrets during his term, Key said not getting the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal over the line was a big one.
Some of Key’s opponents and supporters have expressed their surprise at his announcement.
The National Party committee will hold a meeting on 12 December to decide the new party leader and prime minister. Key said he would vote for his deputy and finance Minister, Bill English, to take over but would support whoever is elected. National elections are expected to happen in late 2017.
Deputy and Finance Minister Bill English / Image: The National Business Review