Jun 27, 2013

    Rudd back as Aussie PM ahead of coming polls

    AUSTRALIA'S ruling Labor Party elected former leader Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister and dumped Ms Julia Gillard yesterday, in a dramatic move to try and stave off a catastrophic defeat at an election due within three months.

    The return of Mr Rudd could now see Australia go to the polls in August rather than the set date of Sept 14, to cash in on his greater popularity with voters and an expected honeymoon period with the electorate.

    Mr Rudd, a former diplomat who speaks Mandarin, won a Labor Party ballot with 57 votes to Ms Gillard's 45.

    Ms Gillard promised to quit politics if she lost the ballot.

    The leadership change followed a series of opinion polls showing that her minority government could lose up to 35 seats at the looming elections, giving the conservative opposition a massive majority in the 150-member Parliament.

    But polls also show Mr Rudd is more popular with voters and his return to the prime ministership, which he lost to Ms Gillard in June 2010, could stem the size of Labor's election loss.

    The shift from Ms Gillard to Mr Rudd is unlikely to have any major policy implications, as both are strong supporters of Australia's military alliance with the United States and strong supporters of growing ties with top trading partner China.