What you see is what you get. That was the assurance John Key gave during the election campaign as Labour tried to demonise him first as a closet right winger, and, when that failed, the puppet of those on the far right who wanted a return to more free market-aligned policies.
Key is his own man. He knows where he stands even if, at times, it was not entirely obvious as he bounced from one position to another in Opposition, ever the pragmatist pushing the right buttons to make National a more electable beast.
He is at the moderate end of the centre-right spectrum. But he is still centre-right - rather than centrist - as National's tax policy amply illustrated in favouring the well-off.
That will become more evident after the new National-led Government takes office. Those expecting it to be some echo of Labour but with different personnel are likely to get a rude shock. In contracting out more social services to the private sector, for example, the Key Government will be archetypal centre-right. But Key will not be using the deepening recession as a reason for rekindling the Ruth Richardson-Jenny Shipley-Don Brash brand of orthodox economic policy - even though Act is on board to give a helping hand. Even if he was interested - which he isn't - Key will have enough on his plate simply dealing with the impact of economic crisis.
Key's yardstick for success is whether something works. He is not wedded to ideological purity.
He is more concerned by what middle New Zealand is thinking than listening to the cheerleaders on National's right. That does not make him a populist. But neither is he interested in running a one-term Government.
He won't be afraid of the big decisions. He listens to advice then makes what remains his decision - not someone else's when it turns out to be the wrong one. In that regard, his refusing to deal with Winston Peters, for which he copped criticism, was a reflection of the tougher Key which lies behind the smooth, affable exterior. Expect to see that becoming more visible now he is Prime Minister.
He has run a very tight ship as National's leader, placing a high onus on caucus discipline. He can be tough on colleagues. But he is equally tough on himself. He is willing to take risks if his political instincts suggest to him it is the right course of action. He will thus make mistakes as Prime Minister. But he will not repeat them.
He may be more inclusive than other Prime Ministers who have talked about greater cross-parliamentary co-operation but done little to make it happen. He also brings to the Cabinet table an ability to think laterally when it comes to problem-solving. His biggest weakness is that - unlike Helen Clark - he is not a policy wonk consumed by detail which, if overlooked, can come back to bite an unwary Government. But he is better at communicating the basic message. His big handicap is lack of ministerial experience - and therefore an understanding of how the Beehive can quickly isolate ministers from political reality to the Government's overall cost.
Key will find crisis avoidance and political management taking a huge toll on his time and energy.
He has also had little to do with the public service and the deft skills of officials in getting the Government to do what they think it should do, even though that might be counter to the governing party's interests.
One major plus is his understanding of economics, particularly the forces behind the global financial crisis. The relationship between Prime Minister and Finance Minister is the most crucial within a Government. Helen Clark and Michael Cullen always spoke with one voice. That has not always been the case with Key and Bill English in Opposition. It did not matter so much then. It does now.