On Sunday December 4, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, John Key, announced his intention to resign after eight years in the position.
According to the New York Times, Key resigned with his family in mind. “For my wife Bronagh there have been many nights and weekends spent alone. My daughter Stephanie and my son Max have transitioned from teenagers to young adults while coping with an extraordinary level of intrusion and pressure because of their father’s job,” he said in the speech announcing his resignation.
Key’s eight year term has encompassed a number of successes. WSJ reported his leadership has been marked with stability and prosperity for New Zealand. Key steered them out of a recession, rebuilt major cities after the 2011 earthquake, and ended a three decade old standoff with the U.S. over nuclear politics. He helped the country come to economic agreements with the U.S. and China, and he has partnered with Australia, Britain, Canada, and the U.S. under the Five Eyes agreement in an intelligence agreement. According to Reuters, this October, New Zealand reported its second straight budget surplus.
Should Key have chosen to run for a fourth term, his chances of winning were strong. Reuters reported a credible poll had his party ahead in support by a margin of 37.5%. Key was immensely popular among his constituents, and after his resignation the New Zealand dollar fell around a fifth of a U.S. cent to 0.7084.
Key’s career started not in government, but in business. BBC stated he was formerly a Merrill Lynch foreign exchange dealer before he moved into parliament, and was then elected Prime Minister six years later. In his announcement speech, Key also indicated his belief that renewal would be healthy for the government. He plans to wait until an election can be held for his Parliament seat, currently set for December 12, to officially hand in his resignation, according to BBC.
Reactions from other government officials, both domestic and global have been overwhelmingly positive. New Zealand Green Party co-leader, Metiria Turei, stated on Twitter, “[I] fought every day against John’s politics but always supported his right to be a dad and a husband first. I wish him and his family well.” Another New Zealand party leader, Andrew Little also commented on Key’s resignation on Twitter. He said, “John Key has served New Zealand generously and with dedication. I wish him and his family the best for the future.” Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, had only five words on the matter, “say it ain’t so bro.”
Although leaders may mourn his decision, Key is resolute. “I have never seen myself as a career politician” he stated in his speech. “I have certainly never wanted my success in politics to be measured by how long I spent in parliament…. all I can say is that I gave it everything I had. I have nothing left in the tank…. it’s time for me to come home.”