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Ousted Australian PM’s move to contest next election could ‘bode ill’ for conservatives

CANBERRA — Ousted Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he will seek another parliamentary term in this year’s elections, creating a potential rallying point for conservative lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Party and a headache for his successor, Mr Malcolm Turnbull.

CANBERRA — Ousted Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he will seek another parliamentary term in this year’s elections, creating a potential rallying point for conservative lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Party and a headache for his successor, Mr Malcolm Turnbull.

“I have been heartened by the support and encouragement I’ve received to continue to serve the country as a Member of Parliament,” said Mr Abbott on his website. He will again contest the Sydney-based seat of Warringah, which he has held for 22 years.

While Mr Abbott’s two-year term as prime minister was blighted by party infighting and poor decision-making, he remains a figurehead in its conservative wing and could prove a lightning rod for any future internal dissent against Mr Turnbull. That could eventually undermine the leader’s authority, according to political analyst Haydon Manning.

“While Abbott’s announcement won’t cause Turnbull immediate concern, because he’s popular and should easily be elected, down the track it could bode ill for party solidarity,” said Mr Manning, a politics professor at Flinders University in Adelaide. “The conservatives want Abbott to remain as their rallying point and now he’s stepping up to do it.”

Mr Abbott, 58, may believe he can emulate former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who briefly returned as prime minister in 2013 three years after being deposed by Ms Julia Gillard, said Mr Manning. Pressure may increase on Mr Turnbull from party conservatives to give his predecessor a ministry, he said. BLOOMBERG

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