Abbott's days as PM are numbered, experts say

Australian PM 'on borrowed time': Expert

Australia's prime minister may have survived a crucial leadership challenge on Monday, but that doesn't mean he'll remain in power for much longer, experts told CNBC.

"He's a goner…I don't think he'll last the twelve weeks until the critical budget [in May]," said Colin Chapman, founder and editor-in-chief of think-tank Australia and ASEAN Strategies. "He's on borrowed time and I can't see anything he can do in the coming months that can change that."

Monday's spill motion, an internal vote held between all Liberal Party members of parliament (MPs), revealed that 61 MPs voted for Abbott to remain in power, while 39 were against him.

The revolt against the prime minister was first brought up on Friday and followed opinion polls over the previous weekend that showed Abbott's approval rating at a record low of 24 percent. The embattled prime minister's popularity has plummeted since his administration pushed for deep spending cuts in health, education and pension at 2014's federal budget.

Last chance

One more mistake by Abbott could trigger another spill motion, Chapman and others warned.

"Abbott just needs one more gaffe like the Knighthood award and there'll be another spill. This time the numbers will go the other way and he'll be gone," Chapman stated. Last month, the prime minister came under fire for his decision to award a knighthood – Australia's highest honor- to Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip.

"I suspect we may see Mr. Turnbull leading if we see one more stumble," agreed Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG in a note, referring to Liberal Party MP Malcolm Turnbull, widely seen as the frontrunner to replace Abbott.

Mark Graham | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"The vote is really too close for comfort for the prime minister, so I imagine the very real prospect of further challenges down the road," Wayne Swan, former Australian treasurer and deputy prime minister, told CNBC.

Chapman believes the Liberal Party will set up an alternate government in the coming days, consisting of Malcolm Turnbull, foreign minister Julie Bishop and a new treasurer.

However, Mr. Turnbull may follow a similar downwards spiral should he succeed, cautioned Wayne Swan, calling Turnbull's potential leadership "the same horse, different jockey." Swan, a member of opposition Labor Party, argued that Australians reject Abbott's imposition of a harsh austerity regime and constant talking down of the economy. He expects Turnbull to pursue similar trickle-down economic policies as Abbott.

Hit to confidence

Monday's vote marked yet another milestone in Australia's history of political instability, which has been a source of concern for international investors. The country went through three prime ministers from 2010 to 2013.

Martin Lakos, division director at Macquarie, called Monday's spill motion destabilizing: "At the end of the day, it's not helping consumer or business confidence. We've had six or seven years of political turmoil that we really don't need in terms of confidence levels."

The upcoming budget in May is widely perceived as a make-or-break event for Abbott to repair his image in the eyes of Australians.

"There's absolutely no doubt that it's a clear message to the leadership of the party and prime minister to be articulating what their plans are, executing well and fixing the issue of expanding budget deficits," Lakos added.

Swan: PM Abbott to face more challenges

Markets need not worry

Experts are in widespread unison that neither financial markets nor Australia's sovereign ratings will be impacted by the political chaos.

Adrian Mowat, chief Asian and emerging market equity strategist at JPMorgan, said his clients are mostly focused on the Australian dollar and the Reserve Bank of Australia.

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"Consistency with monetary policy remains a key focus, rather than who's in Canberra at any given point in time. Clients tend to be underweight on the country because they're worried about the falling currency."