Australia's Ex-Premier Renounces Future Party Leadership

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SYDNEY, Australia -- A day after a failed effort by his supporters to reinstall him, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia announced on Friday that he would never again seek to lead the governing Labor Party.

"Mr. Rudd wishes to make 100 percent clear to all members of the parliamentary Labor Party, including his own supporters, that there are no circumstances under which he will return to the Labor Party leadership in the future," a statement posted Friday on Mr. Rudd's Web site said.

On Thursday, Mr. Rudd unexpectedly declined to challenge Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a leadership vote that one of his chief supporters had demanded. The statement said he wanted to end the speculation over potential challenges to Ms. Gillard that has roiled Australia's governing party for months.

The party has been struggling in the polls, and Simon Crean, a Cabinet minister and former party leader who demanded the leadership vote, said Labor would have had its best chance in September elections if it brought back Mr. Rudd. The infighting has raised new questions about the party's chances.

Repercussions from Thursday's attempted ouster continued Friday as several Rudd supporters resigned from their posts over the affair, including Chris Bowen, a senior minister, and the Labor Party whip, Joel Fitzgibbon.

Senator Kim Carr, a backer of Mr. Rudd who resigned Friday as human services minister, said at a news conference that he had advised Mr. Rudd not to challenge Ms. Gillard once it became clear that he lacked the numbers to defeat her. Mr. Carr is one of the few Rudd supporters to have given any public accounting of the discussions that preceded the vote.

Mr. Crean has denied that Mr. Rudd knew in advance about his plans.

Ms. Gillard, Australia's first female prime minister, ousted Mr. Rudd in a 2010 party coup and has led a tenuous minority government since her parliamentary majority was reduced in an election later that year. Although she beat back a leadership challenge from Mr. Rudd early in 2012, she has fallen sharply in the polls since announcing in January that federal elections would be held in September.

After that effort to oust Ms. Gillard failed, Mr. Rudd said that he would not seek the leadership again unless the position was vacant and he had overwhelming support from the party, and he repeated that in explaining his decision not to challenge her this week. Still, it was widely known before Thursday that his supporters had been canvassing for votes to have him reinstalled.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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