John Howard Loses to Kevin Rudd in Australian Parliamentary Upset

November 27, 2007 05:28 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Kevin Rudd takes the helm of the Australian government on the wave of his “fresh ideas” election campaign, ending John Howard’s nearly 12-year tenure as prime minister and his 33 years in parliament.

30-Second Summary

The federal elections of Nov. 24 shook up Australia's government as the Liberal/National Party coalition lost control of parliament, giving way to a Labour Party majority and Kevin Rudd, who became the 26th prime minister-elect.

John Howard departs as the second-longest serving prime minister in Australian history and, less enviably, the first premier since 1929 to lose his parliamentary seat while still in office.

Kevin Rudd, head of the opposition Labour Party and a self-described “very determined bastard,” ran as a fiscal conservative under the slogan “Fresh Ideas.” He campaigned on pledges to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol and to issue a national apology to the Aborigines for past injuries committed by the state.

In his victory speech, Rudd said, “I will be a prime minister for all Australians. A prime minister for indigenous Australians. Australians who have been born here and Australians who have come here from afar."

Some blogs, such as the U.S.-based “Daily Kos,” said Howard insured his own demise by supporting President George W. Bush’s foreign policy, particularly the 2003 invasion of Iraq. “George W. Bush is an albatross around the neck of every politician who supports him,” said “Daily Kos.”

An Australian pundit, Sydney Morning Herald columnist Ross Gittins, writes that Howard’s endorsement of Work Choices, a program that gave employers freer rein to determine work hours and benefits, had lost him a lot of support. The Australian voters are such “that their politicians must be moderate,” and the labor program tilted the political balance too far to the right, Gittins posits.

Headline Links: Australian government gets a shake up

Reactions: In touch with voters

Key People: Kevin Rudd and John Howard

Opinion & Analysis: Assessing defeat and victory

Reference Materials: Tallying the results


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