New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has announced his resignation in an unexpected move, saying it is the “right time” to step down and he is leaving on his own terms.
Mr Key said it had been a privilege to serve his local constituency, and said he would stay in parliament long enough to avoid a by-election.
He said there was no way he could have served out a full fourth term, citing family reasons for his departure, and did not want to mislead the public.
“I gave it everything I had,” he said.
Mr Key said the decision was also about making room for new talent.
“One of the things that I have always believed in is making room for new talent, and let’s be blunt, I have taken the knife to some other people and now I am taking the knife to myself to allow others to come through and have those opportunities, and that is a healthy thing,” he said.
“We have got a caucus that is full of talent. We shouldn’t be afraid of that.”
Mr Key has been New Zealand’s Prime Minister since 2008.
The next election will be held before November next year, and Mr Key said he hoped a new leader would give the National Party a chance to win again at the polls.
“Every leader brings their own different way of doing things and their own nuances and their own perception of different priorities, and that is what gives the government a chance to win a fourth term and fifth term — that when we go into the election that people see them as a little fresher, a little different, a little more interesting,” he said.
“I think one of the reasons why governments fail at that fourth-term hurdle so often is that the leader never wants to leave, everyone says ‘I have seen all of this before, I have seen the video’ and it is not new.
“This is the chance for us to demonstrate a newness about us.”
Key to vote for English to take over
The National Party caucus will hold a meeting on December 12 to decide the new party leader and prime minister.
Mr Key said he would vote for his Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bill English to take over.