AP/The Washington Times
Australia's conservative opposition swept to power Saturday, ending six years of Labor Party rule and winning over a disenchanted public by promising to end a hated tax on carbon emissions, boost a flagging economy and bring about political stability after years of Labor infighting...
A victory for the conservative Liberal Party-led coalition comes despite the relative unpopularity of Abbott, a 55-year-old former Roman Catholic seminarian and Rhodes scholar who has struggled to connect with women voters and was once dubbed "unelectable" by opponents and even some supporters.
But voters were largely fed up with Labor and Rudd, after a years-long power struggle between him and his former deputy, Julia Gillard. Gillard, who became the nation's first female prime minister after ousting Rudd in a party vote in 2010, ended up losing her job to Rudd three years later in a similar internal party coup.
The drama, combined with Labor reneging on an election promise by imposing a deeply unpopular tax on the nation's biggest carbon polluters, proved deadly for Labor's re-election chances.
In his concession speech, Rudd said he would be stepping down as party leader. "The Australian people, I believe, deserve a fresh start with our leadership," he said...
With more than 90 percent of votes counted late Saturday night, official figures from the Australian Electoral Commission showed the Liberals ahead 53 percent to Labor's 47 percent. The coalition was on track to win 91 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives, and Labor 54.
Abbott, who becomes Australia's third prime minister in three months, will aim to end a period of extraordinary political instability in Australia.
The swing away from Labor was a resounding rejection of Australia's first minority government since World War II. Voters disliked the deals and compromises struck between Labor, the minor Greens party and independent lawmakers to keep their fragile, disparate and sometime chaotic coalition together for the past three years, including the carbon tax.
Abbott has vowed to scrap the carbon from July 2014 -- two years after it was implemented -- and instead introduce taxpayer-funded incentives for polluters to operate cleaner.
It is unclear whether Abbott will be able to pass the necessary law changes through Parliament, but he has threatened to hold early elections if the Senate thwarts him.
Abbott's popularity seems to have peaked at the right time. Two polls published this past week by Sydney-based market researcher Newspoll are the only ones in which Abbott beat Rudd as preferred prime minister since Newspoll first began comparing the two leaders in 2010.
There is unlikely to be any honeymoon period for Abbott, as he inherits a slowing economy, hurt by the cooling of a mining boom that kept the resource-rich nation out of recession during the global financial crisis.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 09/07/2013
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