Pacific

Bill English chosen as New Zealand's prime minister

  • New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English, left, stands with the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, after being sworn-in at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. English, former New Zealand's finance minister and a former farmer, was sworn in as the country's 39th prime minister on Monday after his colleagues in the Parliament chose him as their new leader. (Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald via AP)

    New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English, left, stands with the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, after being sworn-in at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. English, former New Zealand's finance minister and a former farmer, was sworn in as the country's 39th prime minister on Monday after his colleagues in the Parliament chose him as their new leader. (Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this May 21, 2015 file photo, New Zealand's Finance Minister Bill English delivers his budget speech to analysts and reporters in Wellington, New Zealand. The conservative caucus in New Zealand's Parliament has chosen Bill English to be the next prime minister Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Nick Perry, File)

    FILE - In this May 21, 2015 file photo, New Zealand's Finance Minister Bill English delivers his budget speech to analysts and reporters in Wellington, New Zealand. The conservative caucus in New Zealand's Parliament has chosen Bill English to be the next prime minister Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Nick Perry, File)  (The Associated Press)

The conservative caucus in New Zealand's Parliament has chosen Bill English to be the next prime minister.

English emerged victorious Monday following a meeting of the National Party caucus. Two other candidates for the job withdrew last week after English gained more support. He is to be officially sworn in later Monday.

His ascension from deputy prime minister follows the surprise resignation last week of John Key after eight years as prime minister.

Key was a popular leader and was expected to contest a fourth straight election next year. But he said he wanted to leave while he was on top and to spend more time with his wife and two children.

The 54-year-old English is a former farmer and practicing Roman Catholic who has degrees in commerce and literature.