The American Spectator
By Aaron Goldstein
Progressive infighting that puts Republican disagreements to shame.
It may seem to both casual and experienced observers that the Republican primary race has thus far been a rough and tumble blood sport, with more pints left to be spilled. But compared with the bone crushing, rugby style of Australia's governing Labor Party; the GOP proceedings seem like a game of touch football by comparison.
For more than a decade, Australia had been governed by the conservative Liberal Party in partnership with the smaller, agrarian National Party. The Liberal/National coalition was led by John Howard who was elected to four consecutive terms becoming the second longest serving prime minister in Australia's history. But Howard stuck around for one term too many and was defeated at the polls in November 2007, even losing his own seat in Australia's House of Representatives. The Australian Labor Party was back in power and Kevin Rudd, who had been chosen leader of the official opposition the previous year, became its new Prime Minister.
However, the Rudd era proved to be short lived. In June 2010, after less than a full term in office, Rudd had lost public support as well as the confidence of the Labor Party caucus in the House of Representatives and of Labor Party power brokers. Rudd had alienated former allies with his autocratic governing style and with his energy policies in particular. Rudd had attempted to enact a carbon emissions trading scheme (re: cap and trade) that he was ultimately forced to abandon and then subsequently engaged in a row with mining companies over a super profits tax.
Because of this Rudd would end up facing a challenge from Julia Gillard, his deputy prime minister. Although Rudd had initially planned to take Gillard head on, when it was clear he did not have the needed votes he stepped aside and resigned both as Labor Party leader and as prime minister. Rudd was out; Gillard was in. Imagine if Hillary Rodham Clinton had organized a bloodless coup against President Obama. No doubt President Obama is thankful there is no parliamentary system in the United States.
Alas, Gillard does not have the luxury of separation of powers and she could now find herself in Rudd's position after less than two years in office. Although Gillard managed to be elected in her own right in August 2010, she did so by the narrowest of margins. Both Labor and the Liberals, now led by Tony Abbott, each won 72 seats and Australia had its first hung parliament in seven decades. However, Gillard managed to find a coalition partner in the Australian Green Party to give her a narrow parliamentary majority. Gillard also kept Rudd in the cabinet as her Minister of Foreign Affairs in a classic case of "keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer."
You may view the full article @ http://spectator.org/archives/2012/02/22/labors-love-lost-down-under
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