Some called it a farce, some called it a charade, and others used less printable terms. But at the end of a dramatic and bizarre day in Australian politics, Julia Gillard remained Prime Minister tonight after she called a leadership vote in which no one stood against her.
Tensions within the governing Labor Party had been brewing since Ms Gillard ousted her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, in June 2010, then called an election which led to her cobbling together a minority Labor government. In February last year, Mr Rudd attempted to snatch the leadership back from Australia’s first female Prime Minister, but lost by a sizeable margin in a ballot of Labor MPs and senators.
The Prime Minister wrong-footed opponents by calling a ballot for 4.30pm, giving Mr Rudd’s backers just two hours. As the clock ticked on, there was no sign of Mr Rudd. With less than 10 minutes to go, he appeared.
He declared he would not be contesting the leadership because he had promised after last year’s ballot that he would challenge again only if a majority of his colleagues drafted him in.