Kevin Rudd Becomes Prime Minister of Australia (Again)

Some news from Down Under via the Herald Sun:

Three years and three days after he was dumped by his party on the eve of an election, Labor has returned to Mr Rudd on the eve of another election. Mr. Rudd won the leadership ballot 57 votes to 45.

Mr. Rudd said he resumed as PM “with humility, with honour and with an important sense of energy and purpose”. He said recently “politics has failed the Australian people” with too much negativity and an “erosion of trust”.

Australia works on the parliamentary system, where the head of government is chosen by a vote by the majority party. Until recently the majority Labor Party was led by Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female PM (prime minister). However, over the past few years her popularity has dropped significantly and polls have shown the Labor Party heading towards defeat in the September general election.

This latest leadership vote was the third in little more than a year, and though Gillard’s leadership survived both times, it showed that there was a deep seeded discontent in her party. In general, it’s never a good sign when one of your own party’s MPs (member of parliament) compares your leadership to the Titanic.

Prior to the vote, in either an act of desperation or bravado, Gillard announced that if she lost she would retire from politics and she called on Rudd to do the same. She appeared confident before the contest, saying “I wouldn’t be putting myself forward unless I had a degree of confidence about the support of my parliamentary colleagues.” It seems as though that confidence was misplaced. And true to her word, she will not be running again for Parliament in a general election that now seems likely to be moved to August or sooner.

As an American, I haven’t followed Australia’s politics too closely. But I’ll be sure to keep my eye on the Land Down Under in the run up to what’s looking to be a very interesting election.

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