Australia’s ruling Labor Party may lose 35 of its 71 lower house seats in the Sept. 14 election, according to a new poll, amid speculation Kevin Rudd may challenge Prime Minister Julia Gillard before the week is out.
The JWS Research poll, published in the Australian Financial Review today, shows nine Labor ministers could lose their seats, the newspaper said. It was conducted in 47 seats held by the party with a margin of 12 percent or less, and shows a swing against Labor of 7.6 percent on a two-party basis, designed to gauge which party is most likely to form a government under Australia’s preferential voting system.
Labor would fare better in the election if Rudd were leader, the JWS poll shows, with a window to change leaders this week before parliament in Canberra goes into recess. While Gillard has vowed she won’t resign, speculation has intensified in recent weeks that Rudd will vie for the job he lost to her in a backroom party coup three years ago.
Should Australia’s first female prime minister refuse to throw open her leadership, a contest could be held if more than a third of Labor’s caucus demands a party-room vote, known as a spill. Gillard beat Rudd in a February 2012 leadership ballot 71 votes to 31, prompting the former leader to say he wouldn’t challenge again.