Rudd undone by party infighting, own failings

Rudd undone by party infighting, own failings
Australian residents marking their ballots on the morning of the federal election at Bondi Beach in Sydney .

Australia's outgoing prime minister, Mr Kevin Rudd, held lofty goals for himself, his nation and the region but he was ultimately undone by party infighting and his own personal failings. His recent political fortunes were a veritable roller-coaster ride, as he rose and fell and then rose again in spectacular fashion - only to end with another dramatic fall in Saturday's federal election.

Resigning as Labor leader on Saturday, he said: "There comes a time when you know you have given it all." His resignation leaves Australia's oldest political party leaderless and further drains its talent pool after nine former ministers did not stand for re-election.

Immediate questions remain over Mr Rudd's intentions - whether he will also resign from his district, which would trigger a special election, or stay on in Parliament.

"My responsibility has been to maintain Labor as a fighting force for the future so that we can unite behind the next leader of our party," he said. Yet there was no denying that the loss was a devastating one for a man who once stood tall as one of the nation's most popular prime ministers ever.

When he came to power in 2007, Mr Rudd, 55, presented a fresh and energetic alternative to the 11-year-old John Howard government. He ran an almost flawless campaign, even upstaging then Prime Minister John Howard by delivering a speech in his fluent Mandarin at a state lunch for China's then President Hu Jintao.

Mr Rudd's ambitions for his first term were almost boundless and his passion for the international stage earned him the nickname "Kevin 747". He proposed forming a new regional grouping, the Asia-Pacific Community, as well as securing international agreements on climate change and nuclear disarmament. Somewhat characteristically, none of these goals came to pass.

During his first two years as leader, the ambitious workaholic helped steer Australia through the 2008 financial crisis and apologised to the Aborigines for the government's past wrongdoings. His approval rating skyrocketed. But he came back to earth just as swiftly.

Although he labelled climate change "the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time", Mr Rudd abandoned his plan for a carbon emissions trading scheme after he could not persuade the Senate to back it.

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