Julia Gillard calls shock leadership vote

by Mark Benson on February 23, 2012

in Money, Business and Finance

Julia Gillard calls shock leadership vote

The gloves are off!!!

While there is no doubt that Julia Gillard’s tenure as prime minister of Australia and leader of the Austrian Labor Party is under threat, nobody can accuse her of running away from her problems. In a dramatic move she announced a leadership vote as a means of attempting to put to bed the challenge of Kevin Rudd who is currently in America on government business. This comes just hours after Kevin Rudd resigned his position as Foreign Minister to the Australian government amid claims that the Prime Minister was attempting to undermine him.

Ding ding round two

Yesterday we wrote about the problems within the Australian Labor Party and the fact that there had been speculation for some time that Kevin Rudd was secretly trying to acquire enough votes to oust Julia Gillard. This is fairly ironic because Julia Gillard ousted Kevin Rudd back in 2010 in what many now believe was a mistake by the ruling Labor government.

Despite the fact that Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd appear on the face of it to be very pleasant with each other for the media there is no doubt that there is no love lost between the two. Kevin Rudd has never forgiven Julia Gillard for ousting him back in 2010 in a very underhand and a very secretive way. It is believed that even prior to acknowledgement of her victory back in 2010 she had already written her “victory speech”, an accusation that she refutes.

Where does this leave the Australian government?

Kevin Rudd is very much playing his cards close to his chest after announcing that he will decide tomorrow whether indeed he will play a role in the Labor leadership battle. He seems to have a growing band of followers in the Labor ranks and many believe he has enough votes to win and regain his position as leader of the party and Prime Minister of Australia. However, there is no doubt that this leadership challenge will be dirty, aggressive and potentially very bloody and has the potential to rip apart the party.

There is also the fact that as the leadership challenge goes on is almost inevitable that the leading Labor government will not be as focused as it could be upon the Australian economy. Despite this fact that Australia is relatively stronger than the vast majority of developed and developing country’s there is a need to monitor the economy because they may well be turbulence ahead. If we see something of a political vacuum there is the potential for damage not only to the party but also the government.

Rumours of intimidation and threats

Allegations have been flying around today regarding the intimidation of sitting MPs and the threats allegedly mooted out by supporters of Julia Gillard. While there is no doubt that there will be heated debates and heated discussions with various MPs these allegations of intimidation and threats are at the moment unproven.

However, it seems almost inevitable that we will see MPs within the Labor Party falling on either side of the fence and either supporting Julia Gillard or supporting Kevin Rudd. Everybody seems to know who everybody else is supporting and this will lead to an eventual split in the party in the weeks and months ahead even if Julia Gillard was to retain her position. In political terms many believe that Julia Gillard is a “dead woman walking” although she had the bottle to call a leadership challenge today and she is certainly going to fight for her position.

So will Kevin Rudd run for prime minister and leader of the Labor Party?

The very fact that supporters of Kevin Rudd would appear to have effectively forced this leadership challenge means that he has probably come too far to turn away. If he was to turn his back on this leadership challenge then there is no doubt that he can kiss goodbye to any leadership aspirations he may have for the future. It seems that his resignation in America, which was a surprise to the Prime Minister, has been the catalyst to today’s move and you need to take your hat off to the current Australian Prime Minister.

If you read the press and believe the rumours it would appear that the Kevin Rudd juggernaut of support continues to roll forward and will eventually end up in the Prime Minister’s office. There have been allegations that both parties have undermined each other over the last few weeks, both indirectly in public and directly behind the scenes, although obviously nobody will admit to this. Kevin Rudd has also called upon voters around Australia to contact their local members of Parliament and voice their concerns regarding the Labor leadership and the role of Prime Minister of Australia.

Can Julia Gillard survive this potential coup?

Even before today’s announcement of a leadership vote there were many in the party who believed that Julia Gillard was literally staggering to her final stand. She has been holed below the water line with regards to a number of promises and laws which she has not been able to push through and this has not gone down well with the electorate. When you also take into account a number of PR gaffes including the recent Australia Day confrontation with aboriginal protestors there are some who are actually starting to feel sorry for the Prime Minister.

Today’s decision to call a leadership battle was brave, potentially foolish but it will certainly flush out those who have been allegedly campaigning behind the Prime Minister’s back in favour of Kevin Rudd. Whether she has left it too late to attempt to nip this issue in the bud remains to be seen because the groundswell of support for Kevin Rudd, despite concerns about his leadership style, continues to grow. Whatever happens over the next few days there is no doubt that Julia Gillard will go down as a battler, a fighter and somebody who was determined not to give up her role as Prime Minister of Australia and leader of the Australian Labor Party.

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