Jim Bolger

James Brendan Bolger ONZ PC (/ˈbɒlər/ BOL-jər; born 31 May 1935) is a retired New Zealand politician of the National Party who was the 35th prime minister of New Zealand, serving from 1990 to 1997.


Jim Bolger

Bolger in 1992
35th Prime Minister of New Zealand
In office
2 November 1990  8 December 1997
MonarchElizabeth II
DeputyDon McKinnon
Winston Peters
Governor-GeneralPaul Reeves
Catherine Tizard
Michael Hardie Boys
Preceded byMike Moore
Succeeded byJenny Shipley
25th Leader of the Opposition
In office
26 March 1986  2 November 1990
DeputyGeorge Gair
Don McKinnon
Preceded byJim McLay
Succeeded byMike Moore
27th Minister of Labour
In office
13 December 1978  26 July 1984
Prime MinisterRobert Muldoon
Preceded byPeter Gordon
Succeeded byStan Rodger
39th Minister of Immigration
In office
13 December 1978  12 February 1981
Prime MinisterRobert Muldoon
Preceded byFrank Gill
Succeeded byAussie Malcolm
1st Minister of Fisheries
In office
8 March 1977  13 December 1978
Prime MinisterRobert Muldoon
Succeeded byDuncan MacIntyre
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for King Country
Taranaki-King Country (1996–1998)
In office
25 November 1972  9 April 1998
Succeeded byShane Ardern
Personal details
Born
James Brendan Bolger

(1935-05-31) 31 May 1935 (age 86)
Opunake, Taranaki, New Zealand
Political partyNational
Spouse(s)
Joan Maureen Riddell
(m. 1963)
Children9
ParentsDaniel Bolger
Cecilia Doyle
ProfessionPolitician, businessman

Bolger was born to an Irish immigrant family in Opunake, Taranaki. Before entering politics, he farmed in the Waikato area and was involved in Federated Farmers, a nationwide agricultural association. Bolger won election to Parliament in 1972, and subsequently served in several portfolios in the Third National Government. Following one unsuccessful bid for the party leadership in 1984, Bolger was elected as National Party leader in 1986. He served as Leader of the Opposition from 1986 to 1990.

Bolger led the National Party to a landslide victory—the largest in its history—in the 1990 election, allowing him to become Prime Minister on 2 November 1990. The Fourth National Government was elected on the promise of delivering a "Decent Society" following the previous Labour government's economic reforms, known as "Rogernomics", which Bolger criticised. However, shortly after taking office, his government was forced to bail out the Bank of New Zealand and as a result reneged on a number of promises made during the election campaign. Bolger's government essentially advanced the free-market reforms of the previous government, while implementing drastic cuts in public spending. National retained power in the 1993 election, albeit with a much-reduced majority.

Bolger's second term in office saw the introduction of the MMP electoral system. In the subsequent 1996 election National emerged as the largest party but it was forced to enter into a coalition with New Zealand First. Bolger continued as Prime Minister, however his critics argued that he gave the inexperienced NZ First too much influence in his Cabinet. On 8 December 1997, Bolger was effectively ousted as leader by his party caucus, and was replaced as Prime Minister by Jenny Shipley.

After resigning as a Member of Parliament in 1998, Bolger became Ambassador to the United States and remained in this post until 2002.