Friday, Sep. 16, 2011

Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia

After she helped orchestrate a Labor Party coup that ousted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on June 24, 2010, Julia Gillard, then 48, became Australia's first female Prime Minister. Tasked with rebuilding dwindling support for her party, she called snap elections just three weeks into office, hoping to benefit from her bounce in public opinion. But the election on Aug. 21, 2010, proved inconclusive: neither Gillard's center-left government nor the Liberal-National coalition led by Tony Abbott was able to secure an outright majority. The stalemate finally broke on Sept. 7. After more than two weeks of protracted negotiation with a handful of independent candidates, Gillard secured a 76-74 majority in parliament to form a minority government.