New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who has been in power since 2008, has announced his resignation in a move that has surprised many.
The leader of the ruling National Party, Key has dominated New Zealand politics for many years, winning three terms as prime minister.
“Ten years at the top is a long time,” the prime minister told reporters in Wellington on Monday, saying that he felt obliged to step down for his family’s sake. “All of this has come at quite some sacrifice for the people who are dearest to me — my family.”
He explained that his two children, now adults, had faced “an extraordinary level of intrusion and pressure” because of his job as prime minister.
Key said that the National Party will hold a special caucus for Monday, December 12 to select a new leader, after which he will tender his resignation to the Governor General. While he has stated that he will be supportive of whomever is chosen, he said that his deputy minister, Bill English, “would win the election in 2017.”
Key made it clear that he will retain his parliamentary seat long enough to prevent a by-election.
Both supporters and opponents of John Key have expressed their shock at his decision. “John Key has served New Zealand generously and with dedication,” wrote Labour Party leader Andrew Little. “I wish him and his family the best for the future.”