The former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Wednesday pulled off one of the most sensational political comebacks in this countrys history,ousting in a party vote the woman who replaced him as leader of the Labor Party in a 2010 party coup,Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The victory by Rudd in a closed-door vote Wednesday paves the way for an end to the rocky tenure for Gillard,who had called the surprise vote in an attempt to head off a challenge from his backers. Much of the momentum to reinstate Rudd came from a steady drumbeat of polls showing that the party under Gillard was almost certain to face a catastrophic loss in elections to be held in September.
Late Wednesday afternoon,a Labor Parliamentarian,Chris Hayes,announced to reporters that Rudd had won the partys backing during a nearly hour-long session. It is Kevin Rudd 57 votes,Julia Gillard 45 votes, he said.
Gillard became Australias first female prime minister in a 2010 party coup that ousted Rudd,who was derided during his tenure for an authoritarian leadership style. Ultimately,Gillard was never able to fully cement her position as leader,owing in part to the manner in which she came to power. She also faced a relentless political opposition that worked hard to deny her the kudos a different leader might have received under similar circumstances and with a similarly wide range of legislative accomplishments.
Despite Rudds victory within his own party,he is not automatically assured of becoming the new prime minister. It remained immediately unclear whether he had enough support from the independent lawmakers. The process starts when Gillard now formally asks the countrys governor general to make Rudd prime minister.
Gillards fate seemed to be sealed Wednesday when,just moments before the party vote was to be held,a Labor Party power broker,Bill Shorten,known as one of the faceless men who orchestrated the previous coup that ousted Rudd in favor of Gillard,told reporters that he would be swinging his votes behind the former prime minister in an effort to salvage the partys chances at the September election.
Tony Abbott,the leader of the opposition Liberal-National coalition who polls suggest could secure a large parliamentary majority in the upcoming elections assailed Gillards party as dysfunctional. It seems that the Labor Party caucus has not just lost faith in the Prime Minister but is losing faith with the Labor Party itself, he told reporters in the capital,Canberra,on Wednesday.