John Raedler and Ben Brumfield CNN POSTED:01:32AMMDTJun26,2013 UPDATED:06:46PMMDTJun26,2013 CNN Image (CNN) – Kevin Rudd returned as prime minister of Australia on Thursday, three years after being replaced in the office by his then-deputy Julia Gillard. Related Content Romney to N.H. Republicans: Pick… Rudd challenged Gillard for leadership of the Labor Party on Wednesday and won a 57-45 vote among fellow Labor members of parliament. In the Australian parliamentary system, the leader of the governing party assumes the position of prime minister and on Thursday morning, in Canberra, Rudd was sworn in for a second time. Gillard resigned after the party vote on Wednesday night and announced she will leave politics. A major factor in Gillard’s demise — and in Rudd’s Phoenix-like return — is the election Australia has to hold by the end of this year. Under Gillard’s leadership, Labor was facing overwhelming defeat, according to opinion polls. But the same polls show a Rudd-led Labor Party would fare much better at the ballot box. Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce oversaw the swearing-in ceremony at Government House in Canberra. The governor-general represents Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. Rudd is widely popular with Australian voters, who go to the polls in September to pick a new parliament and government. Gillard had called for the vote herself after months of inner-party friction.