Australian PM Wins Leadership Ballot

Posted February 27th, 2012 at 1:15 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Monday declared the political drama to be over, after easily winning a leadership ballot against party rival Kevin Rudd, whom she ousted as prime minister in June of 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.

Mr. Rudd pledged last week that if defeated, he would not again challenge Ms. Gillard's leadership before the next election.

Ms. Gillard called for the vote last Thursday in an effort to stop Mr. Rudd's push to regain the leadership after he resigned 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 retained 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 Labor would be thrown out of office if an election were held now. But they also show that voters would prefer Mr. Rudd as the party's leader.