Julia Gillard resigns as Australian PM after losing party leadership challenge

EuropeJulia Gillard resigns as Australian PM after losing party leadership challenge

CANBERRA: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has resigned after losing election for the leadership of Labour Party on Wednesday.

Gillard was defeated by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd‚ who won fifty-seven votes in a leadership ballot of Labor members of parliament while Julia Gillard secured forty-five votes.

The change comes ahead of general elections in September. Polls suggest Labor is set to lose.

Kevin Rudd is now Australia’s de facto prime minister and could be sworn in within hours‚ if the Australia’s head of state‚ the Governor-General approves him for the office.

In a news conference after the vote, Gillard said she was grateful to have had the opportunity to lead her country.

“This privilege was truly humbling. I thank the Australian Labor Party for that privilege and I thank the Australian people for their support,” she said.

“When I first put myself forward for consideration for Labor leader in 2010, I had the overwhelming support of my colleagues to do so. I thank them for that. And I thank them for giving the opportunity to me not only to serve the nation but to serve as the first female prime minister of this country.”

Gillard said she had written to the governor-general to inform her of the ballot result and asking her to commission Rudd as prime minister. She will go to see Bryce later Wednesday.

Rudd is widely popular with Australian voters, who go to the polls in September to pick a new parliament and government. The ALP has not felt confident it could take an election victory with Gillard at its helm.

Supporters within the ALP circulated a petition calling for Rudd to challenger Gillard’s leadership, but he initially refrained. In the meantime, at least eight of the ministers in Gillard’s Cabinet resigned, purging decades of experience from her government.

This week the prime minister had had enough. Despite no official challenge from any rival, she put her power on the chopping block and handed her party the ax.

“I do think it’s in the best interests of the nation — and in the best interests of the Labor Party — for this matter to be resolved,” she said as she called the vote.

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