New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister Bill English looks nearly certain to become the country's new prime minister as he has gained the majority of support in the ruling party.
"This has all happened pretty fast, it's not even been three days since John Key stepped down". Both said they would back Mr English.
English thanked Collins and Coleman for a "civil, constructive" race and told reporters he would refrain from commenting on prime ministerial matters until the leadership selection process was officially completed.
As the numbers mounted in favor of English, who Key named his preferred successor when he resigned suddenly earlier this week, Police Minister Judith Collins and Health Minister Jonathon Coleman withdrew their nominations. Later he became a wealthy currency trader and investment banker before entering politics in 2002 and becoming leader of the National Party in 2006.
The deputy leader of the Nationals has secured the public support of 30 of the party's MPs on Thursday - a majority - and, following the withdrawal of two challengers, stands unopposed for the leadership.
Outgoing Prime Minister John Key had endorsed English in his shock resignation speech on Monday, leading commentators to believe there might be a seamless transition, before the two contenders emerged.
The 54-year-old is expected to retain Key's legacy and to continue with most of his core policies, despite remarks by critics saying English lacks the charisma needed for the job.
As a leader, Bill English will have to choose the date for the next year's elections and before the leadership change most of the people expected that the election will be contested in September but now the law makers are calling for an earlier vote the next year. Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce will nearly certainly become finance minister in place of Mr English.
English, who thirteen years ago oversaw a disastrous election loss for the National Party to the center-left Labour Party, takes the reins of a country in good economic shape compared to much of the developed world. "It is absolutely vital that the party comes together and gets on with the job of winning the next election".
English further shored up support by naming senior cabinet minister Steven Joyce, the minister for economic development, as his finance ministry replacement if he wins the top job.
Mr English has been a politician for 26 years, after he was first elected to parliament in 1990.
New Zealand has enjoyed an annual growth of more than 3% and an unemployment rate below 5% during his time as finance minister.