Australian election date set: Kevin Rudd will face challenger Tony Abbott on Sept 7

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called an election for Sept. 7, when the Labor leader will face off against opposition challenger Tony Abbott.

Rudd and Abbott will spend the five-week campaign convincing voters their parties are better equipped to manage a changing Australian economy.

The country can no longer rely on high demand from China for iron ore and coal, Rudd said at a news conference Sunday at Canberra's Parliament House.

"Who do the Australian people trust to best lead them through the new economic challenges that lie ahead?" Rudd asked.

The answer, at least so far, appears still to be the embattled 55-year-old Labor leader.

According to the Associated Press, opinion polls show that more voters prefer Rudd as prime minister than Abbott, a former Roman Catholic seminarian and journalist.

Rudd's first term as prime minister ended in 2010 in a party coup engineered by colleagues in his center-left Labor Party.

He reclaimed his position on June 26 and told reporters he'd learned a lot since the first time around. The "Australian people know me pretty well, warts and all," he said.

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Abbott may not be the preferred prime minister but his party holds a slim lead in early polls.

He accused the Labor government of being "wracked by division and dysfunction" and promises "more of the same if it's re-elected."

Abbott and Rudd are expected to have their first debate next week.

"Voters will be looking to see if these men can overcome their flaws," Andrew Hughes, who conducts political-marketing research at the Australian National University in Canberra, told Bloomberg.

"Rudd will want to show he can delegate to his team and rule in an organized, efficient way, while Abbott needs to display that he’s more than just an aggressive opposition leader."