Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard must be feeling like the Russian nobles who kept killing Rasputin, only to see the dreaded monk rise again after each strike. She has now destroyed Kevin Rudd, her former mentor and boss, three times: she drove him from power and replaced him as Prime Minister, then beat back two of his efforts in the past three years to return the favor.But now, as dark clouds gather over the Labor Party, which faces a wipe-out in fall elections according to polls, there are signs that Rudd is trying to overthrow her yet a third time. And there are rumors that Labor MPs, terrified of losing their seats if Gillard is still the face of the party on election day, are thinking of backing Rudd’s bid. The FT reports:
[Kevin Rudd made] a series of appearances in key marginal seats that have underlined his popularity with voters. […]The former diplomat, who is fluent in mandarin, is blamed for…waging a relentless campaign of revenge that has undermined Ms Gillard’s minority government.“This is a programme, a jihad of revenge the like of which we’ve never seen before in the history of Australian politics,” Mark Latham, a former leader of the Labor party, said last week.
Both Rudd and Gillard have been heavily damaged by their long feud, and one of the reasons Labor is in trouble is that voters are tired of what looks to be an indecisive and divided party trapped in a never ending soap opera. This latest turn of the screw only heightens the odds that neither Rudd nor Gillard (both of whom are able politicians with a lot to offer) will be running Australia after the voters are heard.The White House is presumably rooting for a Gillard victory (politically she’s closer to Nancy Pelosi than to Sarah Palin), but US-Australia relations are strong enough that they will roll on smoothly regardless of who wins.[Australia image courtesy of Shutterstock]