Sharples is poised to stand down today as party leader though he will remain an MP until the next election.
The Maori Party confirmed last night Sharples would be holding a press conference this morning to announce his decision about the leadership, but would not say more.
Sharples has been under pressure for months to stand down after co-leader Tariana Turia made it clear she considered it was time for a change.
He reportedly plans to remain an MP until the next election and to retain his ministerial portfolios.
Key this morning said he was “totally comfortable” with Sharples remaining a minister, though he was waiting to hear from the Maori Party about what decisions they had made.
This is the right decision (if reported correctly) for the Maori Party, as it solves the leadership issue – at least for the male co-leader. Ikaroa-Rawhiti showed voters will not support a party with uncertain leadership.
As Sharples is retiring from Parliament also, his seat of Tamaki Makarau will become more vulnerable to Labour at the election. However Flavell becoming co-leader will help secure his seat and I expect Turia’s sucessor to retain her seat – at least in 2014 anyway.