The editorial in London's The Economist this morning reminds us of a simple truth that I for one have tended to overlook while caught up in the drama of who actually won Saturday's election. For Julia Gillard and the Labor Party this has been little short of a complete debacleThe Australian election: When the hat doesn't fit, head lines The Economist: "Australia’s dead-heat election was exciting. But the drama masks a desperately impoverished politics".
The result is a disaster for Ms Gillard. Not since the Depression have Australians rejected a first-term government. She chose to go to the country when Labor was ahead in the polls, just two months after fronting a coup against Kevin Rudd, seen as an autocrat and a loser after having abandoned his signature climate-change bill. Voters don’t much like assassins, but a half-baked idea for a people’s assembly on climate change and a tack to the right on immigration made Ms Gillard look shallow as well as disloyal. Presiding over a party at war with itself, she would struggle to assert power as prime minister.