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Australia: Political Paralysis Before Leadership Vote

Australia’s governing party will decide between the leadership of the country's current Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the one she deposed in 2010, Kevin Rudd. Following months of speculation, Australian Labor Party parliamentarians will vote after a very self-destructive confrontation this week.

As well as bloggers such as Lavartus Prodeo and their legions of commenters, Twitter users have taken to the task with gusto. #respill has been the tag of choice for many whilst the somewhat bizarre #kevenge seems to capture the mood of many others in Twitterville.

Kevin Rudd's daughter Jessica knows the value of a well-timed tweet. This one got plenty of publicity:

@Jess_Rudd: Effing proud of you, Dad. xxxx

The “effing” seemed to fit after the video of her father Happy Little Vegemite that was released earlier in the week. The video contains numerous expletives:

There were suggestions from both sides that the other had posted the video – either to embarrass Rudd or to humanise him. Cassie White could see both in the ex-PM's swearing:

@cassie_white: I get that this video is supposed to embarrass @KRuddMP but it just makes me like him http://bit.ly/w02qvX An Aussie who swears, SHOCK!!

A new pro-Rudd user appeared @Vote4Rudd which asks, “Follow us if you want Kevin Rudd back!” Despite Kevin’s supposed popularity it had only 141 followers after two days.

Parliamentarians who have not yet indicated how they will vote are being hounded on twitter. Journalists such as @ABCNews24’s reporter Latika Bourke seem relentless. After stalking Anthony Albanese MP for days she live-tweeted his whole radio interview:

@latikambourke: Anthony Albanese says he's old fashioned and told first the people he is NOT voting for. GIllard/Swan then he phoned Rudd. #respill

Her tweeting is a case study in itself in the use of social media for professional journalism.

The media have fallen back on the old cliché about soap operas, bur neither the prime minsiter nor netizen Tom Taylor were amused:

@TomTaylorMade: Gillard: ‘This is not an episode of Celebrity Big Brother.’ We know. The public can vote in Celebrity Big Brother.

Some #kevenge tweets from today (25 February) seem appropriate:

‏@bennpackham: Rudd is well behind at this stage but this whole people power thing is pure evil genius #kevenge

@AshGhebranious: Julia , ever since you got this Kevin Rudd monkey off your back, you have been sounding really impressive. #auspol #respill #kevenge

@SuzyJacobs: Guillard will never escape the stink of her succession #auspoll #respill #kevenge

Captain Danger is clearly disillusioned with the mass media's groupthink:

@CaPtAiN_dAnGeR_: i follow too many Aussie journos. it's like a freakin echo chamber in here #respill #kevenge #albolove

The vote is 10.30 AM Monday 27 February, Canberra time. My next post will cover the fallout from Monday's vote.

Personal Disclosure: As a member of the Australian Labor Party for 40 years, I have made my position on the leadership challenge clear online: #ISupportGillard

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