New Zealand Prime Minister John Key surprised his country, announcing that he would be resigning in a week’s time. Key, who is also leader of the National Party, made his decision public at a press conference on Monday afternoon local time.
“Sometimes you’ve got to make hard decisions to make right decisions,” Key told reporters. “This is the hardest decision I’ve ever made, and I don’t know what I’ll do next.”
Key has served eight years as New Zealand’s prime minister — and, according to The Guardian, he was “one of the most popular prime ministers in New Zealand’s history.” He won his third term in office in September 2014.
At his press conference, Key said that it was the “right time” to step down, noting that he made his decision after a “pretty long discussion” with his wife. “On a family basis,” said the father of two, “I don’t think I could commit much longer than the next election.”
Now, attention turns to who will replace Key at the top of his party and his country’s government. Key threw his support behind Bill English, his deputy prime minister and minister of finance.
English, for his part, has not made a final decision yet whether he will seek to take up the mantle of prime minister.
“I’ll be talking to caucus and family today and tonight,” English told reporters. “I wouldn’t stand if there wasn’t strong caucus support for me standing.”
The matter will be decided at a National Party caucus on Dec. 12, the same date Key has said he will formally step down.