Gillard as leader: will she make voters look twice?
With the election only months away, will Julia Gillard’s elevation into leadership be enough to consolidate Labor’s electoral support and help them secure a second term?
Speaking to voters in Sydney today just over an hour after Gillard was elected Labor leader unopposed in Canberra, almost everyone knew about it and had a view on her impact on the national political landscape, though many reserved judgment on how it would affect their vote.
But broadly the people The Punch spoke to saw Gillard’s leadership a change to be excited about, and a great step forward for Australia in terms of gender equality.
Nicole, a Newcastle-based executive in her 40s said, “It’s great. We need more women in power.”
While 22-year-old Nick from Mascot thinks, “It’s pretty cool, chicks in power have a better mindset than men. I have confidence she’ll do a better job than Kevin Rudd. I hope she will.”
“It’s pretty good, definitely a step forward. I’m not a Labor supporter and I wasn’t a fan of Kevin Rudd, but I’d be more inclined to support her”, said Ben, 30, from Glebe.
However, it seems that for many of those enthused by Australia’s new political leadership it is as much about the symbolism as Ms Gillard’s ability, and what she stands for as a politician. “I think it’s fantastic because she’s a woman. As a politician, she’s obviously done her job to get there”, said Laura, 27, from Randwick.
Michelle, 22, a communications manager, sees Gillard’s leadership win as “pretty awesome really, just unexpected. It’s great because she’s a woman, and because she’s one of the only Labor members to come out of this term with her credibility still in tact.”
But it’s not all good news for Labor, as some are not sold on our new leader, or the process through which she came to power. “I’m just not that elated, she’s a stop-gap for the next election”, said Loretta, a 74-year-old retiree from Drummoyne.
Adam, 23, from Melbourne said “It’s exciting, but it’s a shame it was so forced.”
As for whether Gillard’s leadership will impact or even potentially win back votes for the Labor Party, it seems too early to tell, with many people waiting to see how she handles the top job.
“I don’t vote Labor, but who knows what she’ll come up with, she might change my mind”, said Loretta.
“[Labor will] probably get voted out in the next election anyway because no one trusts them anymore. But she’ll still have time to do good things and to try and make a good impression”, said a 19 year old sales assistant from Waverley.
“I’ll reserve my judgement until something actually happens. I vote on the policy, not the party”, said executive Nicole.
Of the people we spoke to, there were many steadfast liberal voters, and a few who claimed they would have voted Labor anyway. For Michelle, Gillard’s leadership “will make it much easier to vote for Labor. I could never have brought myself to vote for Abbott.”
If the Labor party finds it any consolation, it seems their new leadership may have already won back one youth vote from the Greens. As Nick told us, “I’d like her to stay in power for as long as possible, so I’ll vote Labor, but I’ll still give my party preferences to the Greens.”
But over to you: how do you think Gillard’s rise to leadership will affect the political landscape? Will it influence your vote?
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