[Marxism] NYT: Australia's Prime Minister Defeated After Four Terms

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sat Nov 24 08:45:25 MST 2007

November 24, 2007
Australia's Prime Minister Defeated After Four Terms

SYDNEY, Nov. 24 ? Prime Minister John Howard of Australia suffered a
comprehensive defeat today, with a coalition led by his Liberal Party
losing its majority in parliament.

After four terms in office, he will be replaced by Kevin Rudd, a
Labor Party leader and former diplomat. Mr. Rudd, 50, campaigned on a
platform of new leadership looking for new answers for new
challenges. He has said his first acts as prime minister will include
pushing for the ratification of the Kyoto climate agreement and to
negotiate the withdrawal of Australian combat troops from Iraq.

The attempts by Mr. Howard's coalition to stress their economic
record failed to impress voters. The Australian economy has had 17
years of continuous growth, in latter years driven by Chinese demand
for Australian iron ore and coal, and he had warned voters that a
Labor victory would endanger the country?s future prosperity.

But despite the coalition campaign, there was little distance between
the two parties on economic policy, and the defining characteristics
came down to the personalities of the leaders and Labor's promise to
readdress broad concerns about the environment, health and education.
Mr. Howard, 68, was running for a record fifth term in office, but
many voters said they were ready for a change.

Mr. Howard conceded the election about an hour and a half after the
last polling booths closed in the western part of the country.

"A few moments ago I telephoned the leader of the Labor party and I
congratulated the Australian Labor Party on a very complete victory.
I want to wish Mr. Rudd very well," Mr. Howard, 68, told a roomful of
emotional supporters in his concession speech.

"I leave the office of Prime Minister with our country prouder,
stronger and more prosperous than ever," he said.

Early estimates had the Labor party gaining some 20 seats, to gain
a14-seat majority in the 150-seat lower house. Television prediction
seven had John Howard suffering the indignity of losing his own seat
in the Sydney suburb of Bennelong in parliament to a former
television anchor and rookie politician, Maxine McKew. He would be
the first sitting Prime Minister to lose his seat since 1929.

"It is very likely the case that I will no longer be the member for
Bennelong," he said. Mr. Howard had represented Bennelong since he
first entered parliament 33 years ago.

Ms. McKew told a jubilant crowd of followers Saturday night that the
result would change the country.

?This has been an amazing night, a wonderful night for Labor, a
transforming moment for the country,? she said.

Mr. Howard has a strong personal relationship with President George
W. Bush, one based on a similar socially conservative philosophy and
outlook on the war on terror, and cemented by Mr. Howard?s presence
in Washington when the 9/11 attacks happened. But opinion polls have
consistently shown that although Australians remain strong supporters
of the Anzus alliance, the security pact which brings together
Australia New Zealand and the United States, they do not approve of
Mr. Bush.

The change is unlikely to bring a radical new foreign policy,
although there is likely to be a change in emphasis in the
relationship with the United States. "Australia will remain a close
ally of the United States and Rudd remains committed to the
alliance," said Michael Fullilove, of the Lowy Institute for
International Relations in Sydney.

It was a bruising campaign, and the Liberal party has already said it
will challenge a number of results on the grounds that the Labor
candidates had broken electoral law by failing to resign from
government jobs before running for office.

In some aspects, the Labor party framed their campaign in similar
terms to other s of the war on terror, as a battle between the
politics of fear and the politics of hope.

Mr. Rudd, 18 years younger than Mr. Howard, has a reputation as a
cerebral student of policy, as opposed to the Liberal leader?s image
of a hardened and aggressive political animal.

Mr. Rudd's rather dry image was if anything enhanced by the
revelation which emerged shortly before the beginning of the campaign
that he had got drunk and visited a strip club when he was on a visit
to Scores New York in 2003.

"He seems more personable, approachable,? Marcelle Freiman, a
university lecturer with two children, who voted for Mr. Rudd in
eastern Sydney said. "He doesn't seem arrogant yet and I have respect
for him."

Walter Lippmann
Havana, Cuba
"Un paraíso bajo el bloqueo"

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