Faced with a full-fledged collapse in public support, self-declared climate change messiah Kevin Rudd has been ousted as Prime Minister of Australia. With polls now showing a near-certain loss in this year's elections, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) installed Julia Gillard as the country's first female prime minister in hopes of reversing the party's fate.
Rudd had grown increasingly unpopular for his stubborn insistence on draconian cap-and-trade measures - among other wacky environmental ventures - the moderate faction bosses in the ALP quietly started counting votes against Rudd in the party's parliamentary caucus. They then informed Rudd's Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, that they were prepared to deliver their votes for her if she were to attempt a party leadership coup. Gillard then delivered the death blow personally in a meeting with Rudd - in which she requested a party leadership vote and declared her intention to stand against him.
As Gillard is herself on the left of the ALP, adding her supporters to the unified moderates gave the mutiny critical mass. This move throws the ALP into disarray right before an election, which they now seem certain to lose to conservative Tony Abbott and his Liberal-National Coalition. Less than a year ago, Abbott was dismissed as an unelectable fringe candidate after he staged a tea-party style coup to seize the Liberal Party leadership - ousting moderate leader Malcolm Turnbull over Turnbull's support of Rudd's cap and trade proposal. Now, the entire situation has turned on it's head - with the "unelectable climate change skeptic" looking like a lock to win, and the "invincible" Rudd being ousted before the election. The only question now is whether Gillard can do anything to reverse the ALP collapse.
Update: A knowledgeable reader writes:
Adam Brickley writes: “As Gillard is herself on the left of the ALP, adding her supporters to the unified moderates gave the mutiny critical mass. This move throws the ALP into disarray right before an election, which they now seem certain to lose to conservative Tony Abbott and his Liberal-National Coalition.”
My sources in Canberra today say this is wrong; the election is 50-50. The conservatives wanted desperately to run against Rudd, who was sure to lose. She’s new, and fresh, and may not have enough time to commit errors prior to the election.