Australian PM Gillard Wins Party Leadership Vote

Posted February 26th, 2012 at 8:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Monday won a leadership ballot against party rival Kevin Rudd, whom she ousted as prime minister in June 2010.

Media reports say Ms. Gillard, Australia's first female prime minister, defeated Mr. Rudd by a wide margin — 71 votes to 31 in a secret ballot of ruling Labor Party lawmakers.

Ms. Gillard called for the vote within her party last Thursday in an effort to stop Mr. Rudd's push to regain the leadership after his sudden resignation as foreign minister a day earlier.

The vote brought to a head a period of intense infighting between the two camps ahead of Australia's general elections scheduled for 2013.

The ill feeling between the two goes back to 2010 when Ms. Gillard toppled Mr. Rudd. It was a political humiliation for him at the time, but he eventually was appointed foreign minister.

Following his ouster, Ms. Gillard led the Labor Party into elections in which it barely squeaked back into power, with the support of a handful of independent members of parliament. She now faces a tough task to rebuild support for her divided and unpopular minority government.

Opinion polls indicate that it would be thrown from office, if an election were held now. They also show that Labor would perform better with Mr. Rudd as its leader.