Australia about to dump yet another prime minister?

In a previous thread it was established that Australia has a strange record of prime ministers being removed by their own parties at a far greater rate than anywhere else. We appear to be about to confirm that tendency:

Caucus members have been back in their electorates for two months and they have had plenty of time to soak up voters’ feelings. Now that they are returning to Canberra this weekend before the resumption of Parliament next Tuesday, some are admitting, away from the microphones and the cameras, that they cannot see how they can continue to support Gillard as their leader.

We may also be about to establish a record for prime ministers doing a Lazarus.

10 thoughts on “Australia about to dump yet another prime minister?

  1. This problem seems to happen more often with the Labor Party than the Liberal Party.

    I don’t think it is a problem with Australia. John Howard was Prime Minster for a fairly long time.

    Labor cannot get it’s act together. Why is this? Regardless of whether it is Kevin or Julia’s fault. It seems to me that Social Democracy at an existential crisis? Losing Working class voters to the Coalition maybe to the Australia Party, loosing the Left to the Greens. The Labor in Australia is trying to be all things to all people, alienating everyone in the process, and appealing to no one.

    I think that if Labor ditches Julia for Kevin, then they will probably will win another minority government, or we will see a Liberal minority government without an election.

    It looks like Australia is set for another hung parliament?

  2. The polling indicates that the 2pp would shift from 54/46 to the Coalition to 52/48 to Labor on Rudd’s return. So far the ALP has sacked 2 prime ministers and the Liberals have sacked 1.

    Broadly Julia has proved herself an electoral disaster on almost a Rick Perry scale and I suspect the electorate never really forgave her for deposing Rudd who remains the most popular figure in the federal parliament by far.

    How MSS chooses to code a sacking where the previous PM returns to office is a matter for him)

    And as a brief footnote, post-apartheid RSA with one president of 4 sacked by his own party gives us a run for our money.

  3. Perhaps the ALP should re-install Kevin Rudd in order to win, but then go back again to Julia Gillard if after the election they wanted something to actually get done?

    Only six percentage points would switch sides? To me, it seems like a risky wager that this is not inflated by a grass-is-greener effect which would be cancelled out with the turmoil of another succession, and with the heavy fire (Right, Left and factional) instead being turned on Rudd. A bit like fantasy Clinton polling better than real Obama. Not to defend Rick Perry, but he was re-elected three times.

  4. Whether the new leader is Kevin (almost certainly) or someone else, the prospect of Julia ever returning to power is nil. When you inherit a primary vote of 48%, drive it as low as 24% and then claim credit for ‘restoring’ it to 30% it is time to consider alternative careers. The polls show that Rudd’s return would generate an increase of 15% in the Labor primary vote. The movement in the 2PP is less because Rudd would also draw some support from the Greens and independents.

  5. 46% of the two-party preferred vote would not seem beneath all hope of recovery, but I will leave that to the Australians. The primary vote is less relevant; worst case in the event of an unlikely victory would be more Greens also being elected, but that could spur Labor to get more reforms done. Which is sort of the point of electing reforming governments like Gillard’s and Whitlam’s, beyond their simply receiving adulation.

    If they indeed go on to lose 46-54, the ALP with the Greens may however have the ability to do to Abbott what Abbott did to Rudd, in a tied Senate.

  6. On a 46% 2PP Labor would lose half its seats in the House of Representatives. The Green vote has not risen significantly since the last election. They will hold their single seat of Melbourne but would be lucky to win 1 or 2 more seats. In both cases they could only take Labor seats.

    Gillard has not led a reforming government. She was the prime cause of abandoning the carbon legislation in the last parliament and agreed to go ahead with it only as the price of Green support. Each of the other reforms she has passed were significantly watered down versions of Rudd bills.

    From today’s National Times:

    They speak of two things: Gillard’s performance – really, shorthand for her judgment – and what their electors say about the Prime Minister. On the latter, what the MPs report back is scathing. The general feedback from voters is that they believe Gillard is void of policy credibility, or a genuine belief system, and that she ranks low on personal integrity. It is, of course, not a monolithic view, but it is, according to many MPs, widely expressed, more often than not with a good deal of vehemence.

    Caucus members have been back in their electorates for two months and they have had plenty of time to soak up voters’ feelings. Now that they are returning to Canberra this weekend before the resumption of Parliament next Tuesday, some are admitting, away from the microphones and the cameras, that they cannot see how they can continue to support Gillard as their leader.

    Personally, I can confirm the vehemence. I have friends, life-long Labor voters, who speak of Gillard with pure loathing.

  7. Yes, that was from the opinion piece quoted above. However, recovering from 46% to 50% seems obviously possible, partly since some who purely loathe her will loathe Abbott even more purely.

    So my point is that it is unlikely, but possible, that Julia Gillard will have many more years of watering down grand schemes, cravenly but actually getting them passed – to the immediate pleasure of few but gradually to the benefit of many. Given the heavy resistance and her nonexistent margin for error it seems suspiciously impressive for a non-reforming government.

    Anyway, happy to disagree now and then, Alan.

  8. Four Corners, the ABC’s public affairs flagship, just devoted an episode to the leadership issue. The ABC sought interviews from both contenders. Rudd declined. Gillard apparently thought Rudd would accept and gave the most excruciating interview I have seen from a chief of government. The transcript is there if the video is restricted to Australia.

    The interview can be seen in its full horror here.

  9. Rudd just resigned as foreign minister, citing a lack of support from Gillard. There will almost certainly be a leadership ballot next Tuesday.

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