Australia: PM Julia Gillard survives leadership challenge from Kevin Rudd

Updated On: Feb 27, 2012

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has survived a leadership challenge from former Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd. Ms Gillard was confirmed as the ruling Labor Party's leader - and thus Australia's PM - in an internal party-leadership poll. In June 2010, Ms Gillard ousted Rudd as PM in a party coup, but Mr Rudd's resignation as Foreign Minister last week during a trip to the US sparked a new power struggle.

Leadership Challenge

Mr Rudd was rejected by his colleagues by 71 to 31 votes in the party poll on Monday. He will continue on the backbench as Member of the Australian Parliament for Griffith, Queensland, but has promised not to challenge for the party leadership any further. However, media reports suggest he could still be "drafted" by party colleagues in the future.

In making the challenge, Mr Rudd had claimed he was the best person to lead the governing Labor Party into the next election, due in late 2013.

Currently, opinion polls show that the current government is likely to lose the next election to the conservative opposition. Opposition leader Tony Abbott has promised to scrap the current government's controversial policies, including a carbon tax and a 30 percent tax on coal and iron ore mines.

Report: Australia’s Kevin Rudd challenges prime minister who ousted him for leadership of nation [Washington Post (AP), 24 Feb 2012]

People Power and Party Politics

According to analysts, in making the leadership challenge, Mr Rudd was counting on the love of the people, not his colleagues. Ms Gillard is well liked by the majority of her colleagues in Australia's Labor Party, but disliked by the majority of the voters. Mr Rudd is hated by many of his colleagues, but is vastly more popular than Ms Gillard with the public.

While Mr Rudd's self-confidence and belief in the superiority of his intellect is compelling to voters, peers and staff that have worked with him reportedly view Mr Rudd as arrogant and abusive. Although his chances of winning the next election in 2013 may exceed Ms Gillard's odds, the Labor Party would perhaps rather lose than have Mr Rudd lead them again.

Analysis: Australia's Kevin Rudd: Admired from Afar, Hated by His Peers [TIME, 27 Feb 2012]

Related Article