August 21, 2010

NEITHER FIRST NOR SECOND:

Australia election results point to hung parliament: With more than half the votes counted, results suggest the prime minister, Julia Gillard, has failed to see off Liberal Tony Abbott (David Batty, 8/21/10, guardian.co.uk)

Early results from Australia's federal election suggest the country faces the prospect of a hung parliament for the first time in 70 years.

With more than half the votes counted, Australia's first woman prime minister, Julia Gillard, is set to lose at least 16 seats and gain only two, leaving her well short of the 76 seats required for an overall majority, according to public broadcaster ABC. [...]

The closeness of the contest is a huge turnaround in fortunes for the incumbent Labor party, whose previous leader and prime minister, Kevin Rudd, had a 70% approval rating. His decision in April to shelve the centrepiece of his climate change policy, the emissions trading scheme, dealt his popularity a heavy blow, and a fight with the country's big mining companies over tax finished him off.

With an election due in months, the party needed a new direction and a scapegoat. Gillard appeared to be the perfect solution. When she took over on 24 June she was embraced as Australia's first female prime minister while Rudd took the blame for the party's woes.

But the respite did not last long. Gillard's campaign has been dogged by leaks against her, party infighting and the presence of Rudd himself, and now she is fighting for her political life. No first-term government has been thrown out in Australia for 80 years.

Gillard's rival Tony Abbott became leader of the conservative Liberal opposition nine months ago, defeating his predecessor by one vote. At that time, the party was deep in the political wilderness. It was reminiscent of the Tories under William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith, suddenly dishevelled in opposition after a long period in power.


This Fall the US will become the third Anglospheric country to force the major parties to compromise rather than trust one with power.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at August 21, 2010 10:40 AM
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