Quite the fall. I knew his popularity was falling but had no idea it was this serious. [quote=“BBC”]Australia’s Julia Gillard has become the country’s first female prime minister after Kevin Rudd stood aside from a party ballot.
Mr Rudd took the step in the knowledge he would suffer an embarrassing defeat, correspondents say.
His successor said the government had been losing its way and she promised to make it strong for this year’s general election.
The Labor Party had suffered a sharp drop in support in opinion polls.
Ms Gillard, who was deputy prime minister before the challenge to Mr Rudd, stood unopposed at a vote of the Labor Party’s 112 members of parliament at a meeting on Thursday morning.
Finance minister Wayne Swan was elected the new deputy leader, also unopposed.
Mr Rudd had called a late-night news conference on Wednesday to announce the ballot after Ms Gillard said she would stand.
Mr Rudd, who led Labor to a landslide election victory against the Liberal government in 2007, blamed “a number of factional leaders” within the party for plotting against him.
Announcing he would stand in the leadership ballot, a defiant Mr Rudd had said: “I was elected to do a job. I intend to continue doing that job. I believe there is a strong body of support for the continuation of my leadership.”
But the BBC’s Nick Bryant in Australia said that by Thursday morning Mr Rudd could not even muster enough support to contend the ballot.
His popularity had plummeted following setbacks on his mining tax plans and the shelving of an emissions trading scheme.
Our correspondent adds that Mr Rudd has always been more popular with the public than with his colleagues - he is regarded as intellectually arrogant and aloof.[/quote]