Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Conservative Catholic is new PM of New Zealand
A socially conservative former farmer with 11 siblings will become the next prime minister of New Zealand, after Bill English’s rivals withdrew from the leadership race last Thursday following John Key's shock decision to stand down.
Mr English led the National Party to its worst defeat, in 2002, but the former deputy prime minister and three-term Finance Minister says he has “grown” since then, and has “much more energy” now the youngest of his six children are teenagers.
Mr English was first elected to parliament in 1990 and during his time in office has voted against same-sex marriage, abortion, and the euthanasia bill.
Despite being involved in politics for 26 years he is still something of an “enigma,” said Raymond Miller, a political scientist from Auckland University.
“Nobody knows too much of English’s background and personal life despite his many years in politics, as he has largely had his head down all these years as Finance Minister. But we do know he is a social conservative from a rural background who is a devoted and practicing Roman Catholic,” says Professor Miller.
What is known, however, is that his wife is called Mary and she is a GP.
He also revealed a little about his faith in an interview in 2008 with Weekly Challenge, New Zealand’s Christian newspaper.
“It is very good for someone in public life to spend a minimum of an hour a week participating in ... in my case, going to Mass and hearing language like forgiveness, mercy, sinfulness, worship – none of which you hear about in day-to-day political life,” said Mr English.