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Prime Minister John Key's departure may boost New Zealand opposition

Popular leader leaves at the top of his game, endorses deputy prime minister

WELLINGTON -- Prime Minister John Key's resignation announcement on Monday has shocked New Zealand and could serve as an impetus for Labour and the Green Party, which are working together to defeat Key's popular center-right National Party in next year's election.

A large part of the National Party's enduring support is due to the popularity of Key and with him removed, the opposition parties could be in a better position to compete, although Key's legacy of success means that they face an uphill task. The 55-year-old remains a favorite in opinion polls despite eight years in power and his party had been tipped to win an election due late next year.

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