Prime Minister John Howard on Sunday called general elections for Nov. 24 that will decide the fate of his 11-year reign and whether Australia will start bringing home its troops from Iraq.
Howard, Australia's second-longest serving leader, faces a tough battle to win a fifth term in office against Labor Party opposition leader Kevin Rudd, a Chinese-speaking former diplomat who for months has held a commanding lead over the conservative Howard in opinion polls.
Howard's announcement marks the start of the official run-up to the elections, though both sides have been campaigning unofficially for weeks.
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