Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has called elections for Sept. 7, setting the stage for a parliamentary contest that he says will determine the future of the country's economy.
Rudd's challenge comes just six weeks after he wrested control of the Labor Party from Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He faces stiff competition from conservative opponent Tony Abbott.
But as The Associated Press reports:
" ... opinion polls also show that more voters prefer Rudd, a 55-year-old Chinese-speaking former Beijing diplomat, as prime minister than ... [Abbott], a former Roman Catholic seminarian and journalist who is also 55."
Rudd, who was also prime minister in the period December 2007 to June 2010, has cast the election as a referendum on where to take the Australian economy, which has bucked the global recession by supplying iron ore and coal to China. But with China's slowing economy, that boom has started to fade.
"Who do the Australian people trust to best lead them through the new economic challenges that lie ahead?" Rudd asked at a news conference at Parliament House.
"Kicking off his re-election bid two days after unveiling new taxes and a massive budget blow-out, Mr Rudd borrowed John Howard's successful 2004 approach of turning a weakness into a strength by asking voters whom they trusted on the economy. ...
[Abbott] accused Labor of dishing up three years of internal division and instability, promising instead that a Coalition government would restore order and re-establish the bonds of trust with voters broken under Labor."