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NZ PM Key to step down citing family toll, backs English as successor; dollar drops

Monday 5th December 2016

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Prime Minister John Key will step down on Dec. 12, citing the burden the job placed on his family, and said he would support Finance Minister Bill English as his successor if his deputy puts his name forward.

The kiwi dollar dropped on the news that Key, who has maintained persistently high poll ratings as leader, is leaving ahead of next year's general election. It was recently at 70.88 US cents from 71.06 cents earlier.

"Ten years at the top  - it's a long time, it's a lot of lonely nights for Bronagh," Key said at a media conference in Wellington. "I felt this was the opportunity for me to do what very few leaders get to do, to transition to a new leader. I really felt I wasn't a career politician."

The National Party caucus is to meet on Dec. 12 to consider a successor. Key said he will vote for English if he is put forward. The NZ Herald reported English is expected to become PM and Steven Joyce to become deputy and finance minister.

By stepping down now, Key will ensure his replacement gets a long run at the election.

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