If you dont mind me asking, I was wondering why you put Jullia Gillard on your list? Just being an aussie I couldnt imagine putting any of our leaders or the opposition even on a list of favorite leaders
As far as other countries, I dont know much about politics, so I'll just have to say that I like Olof Palme as well, just for how he ran his office.
It's her courage and commitment that have struck me. I'm not all read up on what she thinks or proposes on every issue, and sometimes she's had to be a bit opportunistic for sure, on refugees and immigration laws, maybe also on LGBT marriage (which she opposes for now). But she does seem to have the courage to take up strong positions on key issues and stick to them - on climate, on Australia becoming a republic soon, on macho mentality (those incisive, angry remarks in parliament), on Australia interacting with eastern Asia...
I was very impressed by the events that took her to the top of her party and the country. Clearly there had been a silent power struggle going on between her and Rudd for a while, but she thought that he was heading for an election defeat and that he was already losing the kind of authority, grasp and insight he needed to be the prime minister. I think she genuinely sensed there was reason for that apprehension about him and the cabinet, it wasn't just her way of boosting her own moves. So she openly challenged him for the leadership, it was meant to play out at a meeting of the leading circles of the party but Rudd gave in when it became clear that he would not have a chance to keep a majority of support. It was a public
challenge too, in the sense that no matter what happened, whether she won or was kicked out, it would be reported on the front pages. She put the issue to the party delegates - and won. Soon after, she declared that she would set a national election so that her mandate would be tested with the nation. Yes, I know Aussie politics has a rep for shoddy moves - Patrick White says some very revealing and wicked things about what it looked like back in the day in a memoir of his, Flaws in the Glass
- but this is the absolute opposite of how it would play out in most countries: except Michael Heseltine ousting Thatcher in 1990 (though he didn't pull through to succeed her himself) I can't think of one single instance in a democratic country in later decades where a sitting PM *and* leader of a major party has been challenged in this way, without a safety net, by one of the cabinet ministers who stakes his/her claim for the posts to the party delegates and then to the people.
Most of the time, either the sitting top dog is expected to groom one or two possible successors and when the old leader sends word out to his top associates that he wants to step down, the process of selecting the new leader from a very short list of princelings, with those who have been groomed by the old man getting a head start, begins, so that there will be no outward break or a lot of fighting at the time he does step down: by then everything is finished and the new guy is voted in with a standing ovation. *Or* the former pm/party boss is made to step down after an election defeat or a scandal, or sometimes at a party congress, but even then those who want his job are not likely to try to oust him themselves: they'll stand back and wait for someone else to depose him or weaken him. And once the new one is in power, if he/she is also the prime minister, they won't risk an election which could end in a humiliating defeat. Gillard was an exception on every count here, and even if she had to bring Kevin Rudd back into the government after a while, she´seems to emphasise that she owes her office directly to the people of Australia, not to bosses and henchmen in her own party or in the parliament. I think that's very refreshing: we've seen so much of politicians who effectively act as if their job is to get to the top of the ladder, sometimes also to win the election - but they really don't feel they have to anchor what they wish to do in office among the people. Gillard, I think, sees that she needs that kind of active, mutual support, and that's what unites her with people like Olof Palme, Gustaf Mannerheim and Franklin D. Roosevelt..