Polls show new Aus PM ahead
Sydney - The shadowy deposing of Australian leader Kevin Rudd by his female deputy appears to be paying off, with the first polls suggesting Julia Gillard would win the election with a commanding lead.
Gillard became Australia's first female prime minister on Thursday after disposing of Rudd in a bloodless party-room coup prompted by his massive slump in public opinion polls ahead of elections expected this year.
A Nielsen poll published Saturday showed a 14-point jump in the ruling Labor Party's primary vote to 47% under Gillard, compared with 42% for the conservative opposition.
With preference votes from the left-wing Greens party, the Labor party would storm to power with 55% of votes to the opposition's 45%, Nielsen said.
Gillard's rating as preferred prime minister was a commanding 55% to rival Tony Abbott's 34%, a six-percentage-point bump on Rudd's final polling. Voters preferred Gillard by 44% to Rudd's 36%.
Labor's primary and two-party preferred vote both polled higher than before the 2007 election which Rudd won by a landslide, and Labor stood to gain 11 more seats if the polls translated into votes on election day, the Sydney Morning Herald said.
A second poll, conducted by Galaxy and published by the Daily Telegraph, also showed a boost tin Labor's fortunes under Gillard, with 58% preferring her as prime minister to Abbott's 32%.
Labor's primary vote grew four percentage points to 41% versus the opposition's 42%, but on Greens preferences the ruling party held 52% of the vote to the conservatives' 48%.
More people thought the change of leadership was a bad decision (48%) than a good one (45%), but the sentiment was reversed among Labor voters, with 52% approving of the move and 41% against it.
Most polled (59%) thought Gillard should delay the election rather than calling it as soon as possible (36%) and a majority (67%) said she shared responsibility with Rudd for Labor's decisions to date.
The Daily Telegraph tipped an election for either October 23 or 30, with the earliest likely dates August 21 or 28. The latest it can be held is April 16, 2011.
Gillard said she would call an election this year, acknowledging Thursday that she had not been elected by the Australian people and wished to seek their endorsement "in the coming months."