Uphill Battle For US Ally in Austrailia Elections

Rick Moran
Australia's embattled Prime Minister John Howard has been forced to call for elections in November where it is expected he will be in the fight of his political life to maintain his party's majority position in Parliament:

Prime Minister John Howard of Australia on Sunday announced general elections for Nov. 24, pitting one of Australia's most legendary political survivors against a resurgent opposition that maintains a commanding lead in opinion polls.

A formidable politician who has destroyed his opposition in four consecutive elections, Howard, 68, and his governing coalition face an uphill battle against the Labor Party, which one newspaper poll over the weekend showed to be 18 percentage points ahead, 41 to 59 percent. "The coming election boils down to a single question:

"Which side of politics has what it takes to keep Australia strong, prosperous and secure into the future?" Howard said Friday. "The choice is between a coalition team with a clear policy agenda and a record of doing what's right for Australia and an untested, union-dominated Labor Party that has failed to spell out how it would make our country better."

The Labor Party needs to win an additional 17 seats in the 150-member Parliament to wrest control from the governing coalition, which consists of Howard's Liberal Party and the National Party.
Current polls have the Labor Party way ahead and most analysts don't see how Mr. Howard can pull out a victory when so much of the country seems ready for a change.

But these same analysts are refusing to write Howard's political obituary because of his legendary comebacks.

Certainly opposition to the War in Iraq has caused enormous problems for Howard. Moreso than the United States, the Australian people are convinced their contingent of troops should leave Iraq on a timetable set by the Labor party. That would guarantee Australia would be out of the war probably by summer of next year.

There are other factors at work as well. An unpopular labor reform law that makes it easier to fire unproductive employees has angered younger Australians who have deserted Howard in huge numbers. And there is the feeling among many Australians that it is simply time for a change after living under 11 years of Howard's sometimes stormy prime ministership.

Waiting in the wings is the urbane and polished Kevin Rudd, a different kind of Labor leader than Australians are used to. While giving lip service to the idea that America will remain Australia's number one ally, it is doubtful the US will be able to count on the kind of unqualified support offered by Howard in the War on Terror from Rudd.

The elections are set for November 24th.
Australia's embattled Prime Minister John Howard has been forced to call for elections in November where it is expected he will be in the fight of his political life to maintain his party's majority position in Parliament:

Prime Minister John Howard of Australia on Sunday announced general elections for Nov. 24, pitting one of Australia's most legendary political survivors against a resurgent opposition that maintains a commanding lead in opinion polls.

A formidable politician who has destroyed his opposition in four consecutive elections, Howard, 68, and his governing coalition face an uphill battle against the Labor Party, which one newspaper poll over the weekend showed to be 18 percentage points ahead, 41 to 59 percent. "The coming election boils down to a single question:

"Which side of politics has what it takes to keep Australia strong, prosperous and secure into the future?" Howard said Friday. "The choice is between a coalition team with a clear policy agenda and a record of doing what's right for Australia and an untested, union-dominated Labor Party that has failed to spell out how it would make our country better."

The Labor Party needs to win an additional 17 seats in the 150-member Parliament to wrest control from the governing coalition, which consists of Howard's Liberal Party and the National Party.
Current polls have the Labor Party way ahead and most analysts don't see how Mr. Howard can pull out a victory when so much of the country seems ready for a change.

But these same analysts are refusing to write Howard's political obituary because of his legendary comebacks.

Certainly opposition to the War in Iraq has caused enormous problems for Howard. Moreso than the United States, the Australian people are convinced their contingent of troops should leave Iraq on a timetable set by the Labor party. That would guarantee Australia would be out of the war probably by summer of next year.

There are other factors at work as well. An unpopular labor reform law that makes it easier to fire unproductive employees has angered younger Australians who have deserted Howard in huge numbers. And there is the feeling among many Australians that it is simply time for a change after living under 11 years of Howard's sometimes stormy prime ministership.

Waiting in the wings is the urbane and polished Kevin Rudd, a different kind of Labor leader than Australians are used to. While giving lip service to the idea that America will remain Australia's number one ally, it is doubtful the US will be able to count on the kind of unqualified support offered by Howard in the War on Terror from Rudd.

The elections are set for November 24th.