Australian Coup

by John Fund

Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, has been swept from office in an internal party coup. She lost a snap leadership election of her Labor party caucus to Kevin Rudd, the man she ousted as prime minister in a similar vote just three years and two days ago.

Few will mourn Gillard’s departure. A deeply polarizing leftwing figure, she won election by a single parliamentary seat in 2010. She proceeded to break a key campaign promise not to impose a carbon tax after the election. Most recently, she has been seen as ineffectual in stopping a stream of boats bearing migrants seeking asylum from arriving on Australia’s shores. Polls showed her likely to lose in a landslide to Tony Abbott, leader of the Liberal party coalition, in scheduled elections in September.

Rudd will now have to put the broken pieces of the Labor party together quickly. Look for him to call an early election to capitalize on the appearance of change at the head of the Labor party — the earliest date for any election would be August 3. But while he may be able to prevent a Labor-party disaster, analysts still expect him to lose to Abbott. After all, it was his economic mismanagement in 2009 and 2010 that led to his own departure from office after a coup initiated by Gillard. Since then, there are no signs that Rudd or Labor have updated or moderated their economic thinking.

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