Australian PM Gillard set to win leadership challenge

By REUTERS
February 27, 2012 00:22

 
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CANBERRA - Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is set to see off a leadership challenge from party rival Kevin Rudd on Monday, but she faces a mammoth task to rebuild flagging support for her deeply divided and unpopular minority government.

Gillard called for the leadership vote to stamp her authority over the governing Labor Party after Rudd suddenly quit as foreign minister in Washington last week after weeks of mounting infighting between the two camps.

The leadership vote has exposed deep divisions within the unpopular government, which opinion polls show would lose an election by a landslide. The next elections are due in late 2013.

Gillard has said she has the courage and temperament to drive through reforms and rebuild government support with voters, accusing Rudd of running a chaotic and dysfunctional government before he was dumped in June 2010.

Government lawmakers will meet from 10:00 a.m. local time (2300 GMT) for the secret ballot.

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