CANBERRA, June 26 Australia's former leader Kevin Rudd toppled Julia Gillard to return as prime minister on Wednesday, reclaiming the job on his third attempt and with elections less than three months away.
The vote of Labor Party lawmakers followed months of destabilising leadership speculation, fuelled by opinion polls pointing to an election wipeout for Labor against the Conservative Opposition headed by Tony Abbott.
Rudd's dramatic return as prime minister came almost three years to the day after he was dumped in favour of Gillard, who was Australia's first female prime minister, and following two aborted leadership attempts, the most recent in March.
Rudd was elected prime minister in November 2007 and his government helped Australia avoid recession during the 2008 global financial crisis, although he struggled to pass key reforms through parliament.
Rudd won the ballot of Labor Party lawmakers by 57 votes to 45. (Reporting by James Grubel; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)