John Key resignation: Maiki Sherman with the contenders for the top job

Paula Bennett (file)
Paula Bennett (file)

OPINION: The National Party caucus is now facing a tough decision following Prime Minister John Key's resignation announcement.

A replacement will be appointed at a special caucus meeting on December 12.

Here are the possible contenders for the top jobs.

Bill English: Prime Minister

John Key resignation: Maiki Sherman with the contenders for the top job

Mr Key has already signalled his intent to back his deputy Bill English if he puts his hand up for the job. That means he is pretty much certain to become Prime Minister and lead National into the 2017 election. 

Mr Key says the country is looking for "strong and stable" leadership which he believes Mr English can provide. In the same breath John Key also emphasised the need to bring through "fresh talent" which could be argued is a direct contradiction to Mr English. Mr English previously held the National Party leadership role 15 years ago and led National to a worst electoral defeat in 2002. 

But Mr Key says timing is what's important and Mr English hasn't yet been Prime Minister.The timing is now on his side. He has been called the "Patient English" - that patience may just have paid off.

Bill English previously ruled out ever standing for leadership again.

Paula Bennett: Deputy Prime Minister

John Key resignation: Maiki Sherman with the contenders for the top job

Paula Bennett has been touted as a future leader but is more likely now lining herself up to be Mr English's deputy. 

Working her way up as a single mother to now being one of National's most senior MPs, Ms Bennett entered Parliament in 2005 on the list before winning the Waitakere seat in 2008. 

Ms Bennett was quickly promoted to the front bench and led a major overhaul of the social welfare system as Social Development Minister. 

Ms Bennett hasn't been without controversy though. She was accused of releasing the private information of two beneficiaries who criticised the Government's policy of getting rid of the Training Initiative Allowance. Her current portfolios include the Minister for Social Housing and Associate Finance Minister.

Judith Collins: Prime Minister/Deputy Prime Minister

John Key resignation: Maiki Sherman with the contenders for the top job

Judith "Crusher" Collins is the wildcard here. She has been one to keep an eye on when it comes to leadership speculation. She wants to be leader - the question is whether she puts her hand up? Ms Collins is currently refusing to rule out a leadership bid. 

Elected to Parliament in 2002 she is the current MP for Papakura. In 2008 she entered Cabinet and has held a string of Ministerial portfolios including Police, Corrections and Justice. But as with Ms Bennett, both women have found themselves at the centre of controversy. It could be argued they have been the creators of their own demise. A series of problems saw Collins' career slowly brought to its knees: A serious leak of private information at the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) under her watch, an alleged conflict of interest with Chinese milk producer Oravida and allegations of conspiring in dirty politics with right-wing blogger Cameron Slater. 

Ms Collins resigned from her Ministerial roles in 2014, only to be reinstated just over a year later. "Crusher" Collins is back.

Steven Joyce: Finance Minister

John Key resignation: Maiki Sherman with the contenders for the top job

Known as "Mr Fixit," Steven Joyce is considered a safe pair of hands. He has been the power behind the throne of Mr Key but can now get real power by grabbing the reins as Finance Minister. 

Mr Joyce entered Parliament in 2008 and in the same year was appointed Minister of Transport and Minister for Communications and Information Technology. He has since been called in to clean up a number of political messes including the SkyCity convention centre deal, Novopay, and the Fonterra botulism scandal. Mr Joyce hasn't avoided public scrutiny altogether though, receiving a rude awakening when a sex toy was thrown at his face at Waitangi earlier this year. 

Amy Adams: Deputy Prime Minister

John Key resignation: Maiki Sherman with the contenders for the top job

Amy Adams is one of the Government's best performers and while she is not as high-profile as the others, she will be a contender for deputy. She has been a solid performer this year as Justice Minister, including high profile cases such as David Bain and Teina Pora. Amy Adams entered Parliament in 2008 winning the Selwyn seat.

Newshub.

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