PM Key has announced that by this time next week he will be ex-PM Key, resigning to spend more time with his family.
In this case, that much-overused political alibi is probably true.
For a PM who’s been there nearly three terms, you would think he would leave a legacy. But in his own estimation, the “achievements” he highlighted were “the overhaul of justice agencies,” “trade liberalisation,” “advanced race relations” and “and real momentum in the Treaty settlement programme.”:
This is not great work. He calls these “reforms” and says they are “far reaching.” In any other language you would call it all “a wasted opportunity.” That’s at best; at worst, they are all destructive of the liberty that remains..
Yes, he remained extraordinarily popular with NZers – which, in many ways was a good thing (NZers taking for what he seemed to be but wasn’t: as what they think of as representing capitalism). But instead of using that political capital to roll back the state, nothing was achieved at all in that direction and much instead the other way.
After eight years of John Key, the country’s policy settings looks little different than they would have under Labour. That is his real legacy as leader.
Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper said attention will now be turned to who will take over.
"Like Helen Clark, there's no natural successor in line, so this is indeed a big announcement from the Prime Minister, and totally unexpected."
Unexpected? Easy to say in hindsight (yeah, isn’t hindsight great), but if you were to map out the ideal time for a PM to retire if they didn’t plan on a complete fourth term (as he’d previously signalled), then a year out from an election would be a good time to give a successor time to bed in for the campaign, with a holiday period upcoming to give them some space free of media pressure. So in hindsight, early-December 2016 looks ideal.
No natural successor in line? There rarely is, is there.
Joyce and English will fancy themselves, undoubtedly, but the former has less charisma than a telephone pole, and no caucus would surely want a repeat performance from Mr 22%.
Collins too would rate her chances, but I doubt any electorate would agree.
Perhaps Paula Bennett would be the one with most credentials and the least likely to scare the horses. If I were placing a bet, that’s where my money would go. But not any sentiment.
But the choices aren’t really thick on the ground, if the last eight years look uninspiring for liberty-lovers then, none of those four are likely to correct things.