Saturday, November 24, 2007

Aussies go left!

Kevin Rudd and the Australian labour party were awarded a majority government in the recent election. In the agenda, signing Kyoto and removing troops from Iraq. Personally, I'd like to see somebody actually DO something about Kyoto, not just autograph it.

"This is a great democracy and I want to wish Mr Rudd well," Howard said. "We bequeath to him a nation that is stronger and prouder and more prosperous than it was 11-1/2 years ago."

Election analyst Antony Green predicted Labor would win more than 80 seats in the 150-seat parliament, giving it a clear majority in its own right for the first time since it lost power to Howard in 1996.

The result will mean Labor is in power nationally and in all of Australia's six states and two territories, with the lord mayor of the northern city of Brisbane now the senior ranking elected official in Howard's Liberal Party.

Howard had won four consecutive elections and was Australia's second-longest serving prime minister behind Liberal Party founder Sir Robert Menzies. He had trailed in opinion polls all year.

A staunch U.S. ally committed to keeping Australian troops in Iraq, he offered voters income tax cuts, but few new policies, instead highlighting his strong economic record and attacking Labor's links to the trade union movement.

President George W. Bush congratulated Rudd on his election victory, and praised Howard's leadership.

"The United States and Australia have long been strong partners and allies and the president looks forward to working with this new government to continue our historic relationship," the White House said in a statement.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he had congratulated Rudd and the two had also spoken about Iraq and climate change.

"Kevin Rudd told me he will immediately sign the Kyoto agreement. He has also told me he is proposing binding commitments in post-Kyoto talks that start in Bali in a few days time," Brown said.

With 73 percent of the vote counted in Howard's seat of Bennelong, election officials put him just behind Labor's high-profile rookie candidate, former national television political journalist, Maxine McKew.

"This has been an amazing night, a wonderful night for Labor, a fabulous, I hope transforming, moment for the country," McKew told cheering supporters, adding it might be weeks before a winner is declared.

At a somber Liberal Party headquarters, party faithful were putting a brave face on the defeat.

"I just hope the public now gives John Howard some kudos for what he's done over the years," said David Bennett, a member of the Young Liberals, the youth wing of the Liberal Party.

--Hopefully this is an omen for the upcoming US election.

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