SYDNEY, Australia — Kevin Rudd, Australia's Foreign Minister, left for the G-20 summit meeting in Mexico on Sunday amid mounting speculation that he will challenge Prime Minister Julia Gillard for country's the top office.
After weeks of media speculation that Rudd — the former prime minister — was mounting a challenge to the widely unpopular Gillard for the Labor Party leadership, the issue was brought to a head over the weekend with the release of a potentially damning video of Rudd.
(GlobalPost reports: Kevin Rudd, former Australian prime minister, drops the F-bomb in YouTube video)
In the two-minute video, posted anonymously on YouTube, Rudd can be seen swearing and cursing his way through the recording of a public address during his time as prime minister.
The video, which Rudd — ousted in a 2010 coup by Gillard and her supporters in the ruling Labor Party— speculated was released by the prime minister's office, triggered an intensified round of discussion about whether he would announce a challenge as early as next week.
The timing hinges on looming state election in resource-rich Queensland, where the Labor Party faces a tough battle to hang on to power from a resurgent conservative opposition.
The chief minister of that state, Anna Bligh, on Sunday appealed to her federal colleagues to "fix it" — a reference to the ongoing, destabilizing effects of the party leadership question.
"I don't care how they resolve it, I just want it resolved," The Australian quoted Bligh as saying, while refusing to back Rudd or Gillard.
After weeks of playing down the push to restore Rudd to the Labor leadership, sections of Labor party reportedly urged the Gillard to call a ballot, which they predicted she would win, the paper reported.
It quoted one unnamed senior party member as accusing Rudd of gross disloyalty, adding that: "This has to stop. She has to take him on."
Several lawmakers have publicly taken sides in the standoff, with one from Gillard's home state of Victoria, Darren Cheeseman, saying the party would be "decimated" with Gillard as leader and urging her to stand down.
But a Rudd detractor, quoted by a correspondent for Britain's Daily Telegraph, described him as a "prima donna" who was ultimately rejected by his colleagues in favor of Gillard.
It is also widely understood that Rudd, during his time as prime minister, was despised by many in his own party owing to his autocratic leadership style and inability to delegate to ministers even in their own areas of responsibility.
Rudd, meantime, has responded to questioning about his behavior in the video by saying that he was a changed man from two years ago — further fueling speculation that he is planning a comeback.
"You learn from your mistakes and I’ve made mistakes in the past," Rudd said in an interview with Sky News.
"I’ve certainly reflected a lot in the past several years and you’d be a mug if you didn’t learn something from the past."
Gillard for her part has denied the assertion that her office leaked the video.
"I don't know who put that material on YouTube, but whoever did it has acted inappropriately," she said over the weekend.