AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Julia Gillard was removed as the leader of the country’s ruling Labor party yesterday, when MPs voted to re-install Kevin Rudd, the former premier.
Rudd – whom Gillard had replaced as leader in 2010 – will now lead the party into an election later this year.
The party’s MPs voted by a margin of 57 to 45 to remove Gillard, who said she would leave politics.
Yesterday’s vote put an end to years of bitter rivalry between the two. Three years after winning 2007’s election, Rudd became the first Australian Prime Minister to be removed by his own MPs while in office.
He was replaced by Gillard, who went on to win the 2010 election but has fallen behind drastically in the polls in the run up to September’s vote.
Rudd is not expected to be able to turn round Labor’s fortunes in time for the 14 September election, with Tony Abbott’s centre-right Liberal party forecast to claim victory, but he is more popular with voters and is likely to mitigate the losses.
Rudd, 55, paid tribute to the 51-year-old yesterday, saying: “Julia has achieved much under the difficult circumstances of minority government, helped by a dedicated set of ministers.”
Gillard has been removed as Labor leader, but remains Prime Minister. She must now formally write to Australia’s governor general to resign the post.