The Centre- Right Conservative Caucus New Zealand’s Parliament has chosen Bill English to be the next prime minister. English emerged victorious Monday following a meeting of the National Party caucus.Paula Bennett was named as deputy prime minister.”Bill and Paula are outstanding leaders who will provide a good mixture of experience and fresh thinking,” said party president Peter Goodfellow.”Under their leadership, New Zealanders will continue to benefit from the stable government they expect, along with a dedicated focus on delivering results for families and businesses.”
Mr English, 54, was Mr Key’s preferred candidate to succeed him after serving as finance minister and returning New Zealand’s budget to surplus. But critics say the 54-year-old lacks the charisma needed for the top job. Mr English has previously led his party, taking them to a big defeat in the 2002 election.A farmer with degrees in commerce and literature, he has been in parliament since 1990 and was previously leader of the National Party in 2002 when it suffered its worst election defeat.
Mr Key had been a popular leader and was widely expected to contest a fourth straight election next year before his surprise resignation on Monday. Mr Key said he wanted to leave while he was on top of his game and to spend more time with his wife and two children.”Congratulations to my good friend @honbillenglish on becoming the new leader of the @nznationalparty and the next Prime Minister of NZ,” Mr Key tweeted soon after the announcement.
The two other challengers for the role both conceded on Thursday, saying that Mr English had secured the majority support he needed from his 58 National Party colleagues in the parliamentAs leader, Mr Englishwill get to choose the date of next year’s election. Before the leadership change most people had expected it to be held in September, but some lawmakers are now calling for an earlier vote.
The other contenders for the role were health minister Jonathan Coleman and corrections minister Judith Collins. Both said they would now back Mr English.
“I’m going to be supporting him 100 percent,” Mr Coleman said. “It is absolutely vital that the party comes together and gets on with the job of winning the next election.”
Mr English has been a politician for 26 years, after he was first elected to the parliament in 1990. He said he’s gained wisdom and experience since leading the party to an election defeat.”I was 39 years old then, with six children under 13,” he said. “So if nothing else, I’ve got the opportunity to focus much more on the job now.”
Under Mr English, New Zealand has been enjoying relatively robust annual GDP growth of more than 3 percent and the unemployment rate has fallen below 5 percent. English has also managed to return smallsurpluses on the government’s books over the past couple of years.Mr English said he will deliver tax cuts and spread the country’s growing wealth to where it is needed.