Authors here have been saying for a while that Key may well quit during this second term. Even John Armstrong can see the writing on the wall:
Grim reality has taken its toll on cheerful Key
So it’s goodbye Mr Smile and Wave, and hello Mr Grumpy. Or so the Prime Minister’s critics would have you believe. … However, there have been similar murmurings around the parliamentary Press Gallery and other political traps that something has changed in the persona Key presents to the world and that his demeanour suggests someone now less than enthralled with some aspects of his job.
This is all grist to a lingering suspicion that Key – despite his repeated assurances to the contrary – will not see out the current term as Prime Minister and will bow out some time before the 2014 election. …
If Key is acting differently – and you would be hard pressed to notice much difference – it may be down to two things.
First, his honeymoon with the media finally ended abruptly with the “teapot tape” saga. His trust of the media was badly shaken; the media saw a different, less attractive side of him.
Second, things invariably start to go wrong in a Government’s second term. The year has not got off to a good start. Key and his ministers have had to grapple with the current Treaty wrangle and the Maori Party’s threat to walk out of the governing coalition, yet another frustrating Waitangi Day, the public’s unhappiness with the Crafar farms decision, revision of Budget surplus predictions and the fuss surrounding his electorate chairman’s presence on the board of NZ on Air. …
He may be looking more serious for other reasons. The question haunting him is what kind of legacy he leaves as prime minister. Will historians simply categorise him as someone who was extremely good at managing his Government and winning elections, but whose arch pragmatism produced nothing of lasting substance?
Sorry John, Key has not been “extremely good at managing his Government”, the first term was littered with pratfalls (Richard Worth, Melissa Lee, Bill English, the BMWs, and so on). And he’s so far average at winning elections, with a reduced and razor thin majority in his second term.
So what will his legacy be? As I see it he’s going to leave NZ owning less of its own land and fewer of its assets, more economically divided, with more of its people in poverty, with stuffed primary schools, with its second largest city still in ruins, and with more of its citizens gone to Australia. Nice one.