For some of my American readers, the Westminster system can seem a little strange. We don’t have an executive or legislative wings; the Head of Government is merely the head of the governing party or coalition. The Australian Constitution doesn’t even make mention of a Prime Minister.
This morning, conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott has survived a spill motion against him. During a secret ballot in his party room, 32 voted in favour, 61 against, with one who couldn’t figure out how to vote.
Undoubtedly, he’s heaving a sigh of relief. Recent Australian political history would suggest though that once your leadership has been questioned, you’re never entirely out of the woods. Mark Kenny has a great article in the Sydney Morning Herald about this:
This now, is a prime minister who leads in name only and governs with a sword of Damocles hanging over his head.
Worse still for the PM, he’s the least popular in Australian history with a 24% approval rating. I said in January that Mr Abbott is Australia’s George W. Bush; I’m not even sure he had such low numbers.