A party coup that toppled Tony Abbott from the Australian prime ministership has shed light on the machinations inside a political system that allows a country to have five leaders in as many years.
In a dramatic series of events bearing similarities to satirical television show 'The Thick of It,' which chronicled the rough and tumble of British politics with its frequent coups and bickering among party members, former communications minister Malcolm Turnbull defeated Tony Abbott by 10 votes in an internal Liberal Party ballot late on Monday.
The snap vote came after Turnbull publicly challenged Abbott earlier on Monday, criticizing the latter's leadership style and his inability to pass reforms in parliament. Turnbull and deputy prime minister Julie Bishop reportedly finalized the decision to oust Abbott over the weekend, according to local media reports.
In Australia, the political party with the most seats in the House of Representatives forms the government, which means the ruling party can change leaders at its discretion. This means the nation is no stranger to internal party strife. In 2010, the Labor Party replaced then-prime minister Kevin Rudd with his deputy Julia Gillard, only to reverse that move in 2013.
"Monday's events illustrate one of the peculiarities of Australian political design: that the prime minister is not elected directly by the Australian people but rather by the members of the majority party in Parliament," said Simon Tormey, head of social and political sciences at the University of Sydney.
"There is a deficit at the heart of the system - and a fractious style of politics that encourages back-stabbing, back-bench rebellion and political instability. Five leaders in the same number of years should surely make Australia look harder at how we can and must do better," he added.
Wayne Swan, who was Labor deputy prime minister from 2010-2013, echoed those sentiments: "Monday's events indicate there is a degree of polarization in Australian politics that we haven't seen of this depth before," he told CNBC this week.
"I think our politics have become more Americanized, especially on the right." Swan himself switched allegiances from long-time friend Rudd to Gillard in the 2010 coup.