Australia's ruling Labor Party may lose as many as 40 seats in the September elections, including those held by nine ministers, The Australian newspaper reported yesterday, citing an internal survey by the party.
With the party staring down the prospect of such massive losses, Prime Minister Julia Gillard may be ousted within two weeks and replaced by former premier Kevin Rudd, the newspaper said yesterday, without giving its source of information.
Treasurer Wayne Swan, Education Minister Peter Garrett and Trade Minister Craig Emerson are all in danger of losing their seats, according to the internal poll. But Garrett and Emerson may avoid defeat if Rudd is restored as leader, a separate Fairfax/ReachTel survey published on Sunday by the Sun Herald newspaper said.
Rudd, toppled by Gillard in a party coup three years ago, has sought to rally Labor, which trails Tony Abbott's Liberal National coalition in opinion polls. Rudd failed in a challenge to unseat Gillard in February 2012 and has said he stands by a commitment not to seek the leadership again.
Gillard has lost "significant support" among the party caucus, with Rudd again being considered as the alternative prime minister, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on its website yesterday, without giving its information source.
The biggest swings against Labor are predicted in outer-suburban working-class and migrant areas, with its primary vote seen in the 30 per cent to 33 per cent range, The Australian reported.
The Fairfax/ReachTel survey yesterday showed Garrett's share of the two-party preferred vote would rise to 53.4 per cent with Rudd as Labor leader from 48.9 per cent under Gillard. Emerson would enjoy an 11.8-percentage-point swing, the survey showed.
Labor fell 2 percentage points to 42 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis, while the opposition gained 2 points to 58 per cent, according to a Newspoll published in The Australian on June 4. Gillard's satisfaction rating dropped 3 points to 28 per cent.
Gillard's bid to woo voters disaffected by party infighting and policy reversals has failed to boost Labor's ratings. Signs of an economic slowdown have given momentum to Abbott's conservative coalition, which has not ruled since 2007.