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Comparing the Dynamics of Party Leadership Survival in Britain and Australia: Brown, Rudd and Gillard

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 October 2014


This article examines the interaction between the respective party structures of the Australian Labor Party and the British Labour Party as a means of assessing the strategic options facing aspiring challengers for the party leadership. Noting the relative neglect within the scholarly literature of forced exits that occur and attempted forced exits that do not occur, this article takes as its case study the successful forced exits of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, and the failure to remove Gordon Brown. In doing so the article challenges the prevailing assumption that the likely success of leadership evictions are solely determined by the leadership procedures that parties adopt. Noting the significance of circumstances and party cultures, the article advances two scenarios through which eviction attempts can be understood: first, forced exits triggered through the activation of formal procedures (Rudd and Gillard); second, attempts to force an exit by informal pressures beyond the formal procedures which are overcome by the incumbent (Brown).

Copyright © The Author(s). Published by Government and Opposition Limited and Cambridge University Press 2014 

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Mark Bennister is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at Canterbury Christ Church University. Contact email: Tim Heppell is Associate Professor of British Politics at University of Leeds. Contact email:


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