Sunday, December 03, 2006

Endgame Leadership Upheaval

Of course, now that we have about a week left in our stay, national politics hits eleven on the interest scale. The opposition Labour party deposed its 3-year leader, Kim Beazley, voting for the younger Kevin Rudd in the runup to next Fall's national elections.

Beazley had a tough couple of months -- he blundered by mixing up the name of an Australian talk-show host whose wife (who was a famous and popular actress) had just died. His name was Rove McManus, but Beazley offered his condolences to Karl Rove. The Government is seen as vulnerable after 11 years in office, but the Labour party was behind in recent polls, a lag most pundits attributed to Beazley himself. Parties are everything here, and the leadership serves a role with no equivalent in the U.S.: for the opposition party, you'd have to combine Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid into one person, and then you'd be close.

A poll taken today showed that the Labor party is now up nationally, 49%-38%. Obviously a lot will happen between now and the election. Rudd is not well known, and he's already been criticized as an "L-plate" leader, referring to the placards that drivers have to display when they have their learner's permit.

And, just to make things worse, Beazley's brother died overnight of an apparent heart attack.


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