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Turnbull politically wounded, limping

Malcolm Turnbull has brought the question of his leadership to a head by calling for a party room vote which, as expected, he won, if narrowly. However, the vote has shown that there is open division within the Liberal Party’s parliamentary ranks. The PM has just been challenged by one of his most senior ministers, which means that while he is still politically alive, he is now wounded.

The question is whether the group that intends to topple Turnbull as PM will now gather their numbers and, recognising that the PM is wounded, chase him down for the kill; a leadership challenge may not win first time around, but creates momentum for a second challenge, which is more likely to be successful.

Either way, the Liberal Party now heads into the last nine months before elections at war with itself and without a policy on energy. Added to its failure to pass its proposed corporate tax cuts, this makes two major political failures for the Turnbull-led government. Added to poor polling performance, there is likely to be a view among many Liberal MPs that he will now very likely lead them to electoral defeat.

As PM, Malcolm Turnbull will now be wanting to bring stability back to the Liberal Party ranks. However, based on his past performance as PM, it is far from clear he will be able to produce the type of unity that will be needed to win next year’s elections.