Sunday, November 25, 2007

Howard's end

By Michael J.W. Stickings

We'll have more on this in the coming days, but here's a quick overview of the Australian election:

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.

Howard also lost his own seat, the first time this has happened to a sitting prime minister in 78 years.

It should be noted that he has been one of Bush's staunchest allies both in Iraq and in the war on terror. Like Aznar in Spain and Blair in Britain, Howard is just the latest Bush ally to leave the world stage.

After four terms in office, it was clearly time for Howard to go, but there was more to this election than simply the desire for change (any change).

What mattered was the nature of that change, the promise of a new direction for Australia), and Rudd ran a successful campaign against the Iraq War (which, like Americans, Australians now oppose), the Bush-Howard alliance, and the dangerous and divisive conservative policies of Howard's rule (Liberal is conservative in Australia), pledging at a victory party last night to work with friends and allies "in dealing with the great challenges which our world now faces," as Reuters is reporting.

It wasn't just time for change in Australia, it was time to dump Howard and much of what he stood for.

Which isn't to say that Rudd is an anti-American leftist bent on cozying up to Hugo Chavez. He has promised to maintain friendly relations with Washington (though one wonders how friendly the White House will be), and, indeed, on the economic front, home to much of Howard's success, he is, as Forbes puts it, a "fiscal conservative".

For more on the "Ruddslide," see The Times.

For more on Rudd, Kyoto, and climate change, see The Guardian.

For more on the election, see the BBC, where you can find profiles of the two leaders as well as a good deal of background information on the election.

As usual, Wikipedia is an invaluable resource.

Google News has, well, everything.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home