CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's beleaguered Prime Minister Tony Abbott will face a second challenge to his position this year, with a ballot of government colleagues late Monday hours after a senior minister challenged him for his party leadership.
Former Liberal Party leader and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull asked Abbott to open the party's leadership to an internal vote as the two-year-old conservative coalition government struggles in opinion polls.
The contest will pit a man who has been described as the most socially conservative Australian prime ministers in decades against a challenger some think is not conservative enough.
Unlike Abbott, Turnbull supports gay marriage, wants Australia to replace the British monarch with an Australian president as head of state, and backs a policy of making polluters pay for their carbon gas emissions.
Abbott announced the ballot of ruling Liberal Party lawmakers would be held in Parliament House late Monday.
"This country needs strong and stable government and that means avoiding at all costs Labor's revolving-door prime ministership," Abbott told reporters, referring to the opposition Labor Party that changed its prime minister twice in three years.
"The prime ministership of this country is not a prize or a plaything to be demanded.
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