Gillard keeps job
"Thank goodness for that ... I would have soooo missed those dulcet tones."Featured comment
UPDATE 7pm: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has kept her job.
Rival Kevin Rudd refused to participate in the snap leadership ballot called by Ms Gillard earlier today.
Ms Gillard and deputy leader Wayne Swan were elected unopposed.
EARLIER: Australian government MPs are to vote in the next hour over whether or not to have a new prime minister.
Labor Party MPs go in to an emergency caucus meeting at 6:30pm New Zealand time to vote on the leadership of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Ms Gillard attained the premiership after a similar “spill” against predecessor Kevin Rudd, who had faced a run of bad poll results in 2008-09 before being dumped in June that year.
Her polling over the past year has been worse than Mr Rudd’s ever was, and although Mr Rudd appeared to be in the running to take over the leadership again despite his reputed unpopularity with his colleagues, he ruled this out this afternoon and it is not clear whether there is another candidate for Ms Gillard's opponents.
Sitting prime ministers are seldom deposed by their MPs in most Westminster democracies but Australia has dumped three since 1970: John Gorton, Bob Hawke and Mr Rudd.
In each case the fallout has been further disunity, and Australian National University in Canberra political marketing researcher Andrew Hughes was quoted on Bloomberg as saying any change this evening will only work if it is not accompanied by “a back-stabbing bloodbath”.
That, though, would also not be within the Australian political tradition.