Tony Abbott’s stint as prime minister of Australia could be over next week, as his own party is holding a crucial meeting over a leadership challenge that could push him out of office just 16 months after he won a general election.
Luke Simpkins and Don Randall, two MPs from Abbott’s own Liberal party, have called for a vote on his leadership after disappointing results in local elections in Queensland and an internal feud in the Northern Territory.
Abbott’s ratings have also suffered from his decision to award a knighthood to Queen Elizabeth’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. The decision, announced on the day Australians celebrate their national holiday (and their independence from the UK), was heavily criticised on social media.
This chart from polling agency ReachTEL shows Abbott’s support has been shredded. The share of people rating his performance as “very poor” increased by 16% since September last year.
The Liberal party will have a closed-door meeting on Tuesday morning in which Abbott’s leadership will be put at votes. The challenge on the leadership is technically known as a “spill.”
The prime minister could still save his leadership and keep the office, as most members of the current cabinet have announced they will not support the spill.
Practically, politically and morally, however, Abbott’s authority has already been shredded. Australians cannot have confidence in a prime minister whose own members have withdrawn it. It is now a matter of time.
The person most likely to take over if Abbott loses the vote is the current communication minister Malcolm Turnbull, whom Abbott defeated in 2009 to win the leadership of the Liberal party.
Recent polls after the defeat in Queensland local election have shown that the Liberals would do much better with Turnbull in charge instead of Abbott:
Australian betting website Sportsbet also corrected its odds on who will lead the Liberals in the next general election, showing Turnbull ahead of Abbott.
Earlier today Abbott pledged to stand and defeat the leadership spill, saying that the move would vote out the people who “the electorate voted in in September 2013.”
Here is a video from ABC News:
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