SYDNEY, Australia -- Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who supplanted Australia's first female prime minister last week in a party coup, announced a new cabinet on Monday that includes more women than any other in the country's history.
Lawmakers of the governing Labor Party put Mr. Rudd back in power last Wednesday -- replacing Julia Gilliard, who had replaced Mr. Rudd in 2010 -- because of fears that the party was headed for a landslide defeat in national elections scheduled for September.
The new cabinet of 29 ministers includes 11 women, 6 in senior positions and 5 in junior roles.
Mr. Rudd dismissed suggestions that his choices pandered to female voters who may have been bothered by Ms. Gillard's abrupt dismissal. "These are women who are strong, professional, highly experienced, and they are there exclusively on their merit," Mr. Rudd said in an interview on Monday with the Channel Seven television network.
Years of infighting over the leadership have left the Labor Party deeply divided. At least six ministers resigned after Mr. Rudd replaced Ms. Gillard, leaving a dearth of experienced lawmakers in the cabinet. Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition Liberal-National coalition, was dismissive, saying that the cabinet "isn't even the B team, it's the C team."
Ms. Gillard said after the party removed her from the leadership that she would retire from politics. Her poll ratings slumped over her three years in office as she struggled to assert her authority, deal with party dissent and communicate her legislative successes. Two recent polls suggested that Mr. Rudd's return to office gave Labor a boost and signaled a close race in September.world
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.