lxml.etree is getting there
The lxml.etree implementation of ElementTree, on top of libxml2, is getting there now. It features automatic memory management and quite a bit of ElementTree compatibility. Not all of the ElementTree API has been implemented yet, but enough for many use cases.
I did discover in the process of debugging that you need a recent version of libxml2 to make it all work without memory errors; apparently earlier ones, like the version in my debian unstable (2.6.11), contain some bugs still.
I'm testing with libxml2 version 2.6.11 myself, so you may want to try that one too if you want to play with this code. You'll have to modify setup.py to make it use your installation of libxml2 -- the variables to modify are on the top.
So, check out out (svn co http://codespeak.net/lxml/trunk lxml), compile it, and do a 'make test'. And tell me whether the tests pass on your machine!