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Tony Abbott Ousted As Australia's Prime Minister

After less than two years in office, Tony Abbott's often contentious reign as Australia's leader has ended. Abbott was ousted by his own Liberal Party, which voted to make Malcolm Turnbull its leader after Abbott was dogged by sinking opinion polls.

The vote to unseat Abbott took just over 30 minutes, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He lost by a 54-44 vote.

"This is the second time in five years that a first-term prime minister has been ousted by his own party," Stuart Cohen reports from Sydney for our Newscast unit. (Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was ousted in favor of Julia Gillard in 2010.)

Cohen says:

"Turnbull is a moderate and is one of the most liked politicians in the country. The biggest complaint against Abbott had been that he brought his extremely combative style that worked well for him as opposition leader into his role as prime minister, and alienated both friends and foes alike.

"Falling poll numbers, a ballooning budget deficit and failing economy proved the death knell for Abbott's leadership. He's probably best known outside of Australia for his roll-back of climate change legislation, an unwavering opposition to same-sex marriage and for his hard-line stance on refugees that's brought international condemnation."

In announcing that he would challenge the more conservative Abbott on Monday, Turnbull said he was doing so after being pressured by colleagues in his party — and that he was worried the party would suffer in the next national election.

We've reported on some of the controversies of Abbott's tenure, including his calling a rival "the Dr. Goebbels of economic policy," his decision to "halt welfare payments and child care rebates" over vaccination policies, and, last December, his surprise overrule of the panel that awards Australia's top literary prize — a move that one judge called "nasty."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.