Australia gained the reputation of having the most ruthless politics in the world

With the swearing in of Malcolm Turnbull as our sixth prime minister in eight years, Australia has gained the reputation of having the most ruthless politics in the world. But is it true?

Since December 2007 Australia has had five changes to the prime ministership — Howard, Rudd, Gillard, Rudd a second time, Abbott and now Turnbull. Only a handful of countries have had more people in the top spot in that same amount of time.

The party room defeat of Abbott puts Australia ahead of Italy for leadership changes. The troubled Mediterranean giant has churned through five prime ministers in a period that included a near total economic collapse of the country.

Greece, an unstable nation on the brink of financial ruin, only just beats Australia with seven PMs since 2007, including the current caretaker leader since Alexis Tsipras’s resignation last month.

Matching Australia for heads of government since 2007 is troubled Tunisia. The North African nation has had six PMs since 2007, with the Arab Spring causing a serious shake-up in the former strong-arm republic.

Libya meanwhile has had seven presidents since Muammar Gaddafi was killed in 2011, including two who held the role in an acting capacity.

Japan has also had six PMs in the same amount of time, with three resigning due to public disapproval, and two losing power in an election. Belgium, Jordan and São Tomé and Príncipe have also had six heads of government, though the latter had their own versions of Kevin Rudd only with same PM serving three non-consecutive times.

Guinea-Bissau has had seven presidents in the same amount of time, but one was assassinated in office, one died of natural causes and a third was ousted in a military coup.

Thailand has had eight prime ministers including two acting prime ministers, but it was not their parties that ousted them. Five were removed from office by court rulings, one by a military coup and one by an election. The sitting prime minister was installed by a military junta.

But Thailand pales in comparison to Vanuatu, which has had 12 changes to the prime ministership since 2007. The current leader Sato Kilman has had four separate stints in the top job in that time. But unlike Australia, Vanuatu has not had any successful leadership spills from within the parties in that time. The changes all come from shifting coalitions in the parliament itself.

Switzerland meanwhile changes its president every year from among their council, meaning they have had nine leaders since 2007. The tiny nation of San Marino has had 16 captains-regent, who serve in pairs and are appointed every six months.

But the country with the most leadership changes is the one most renowned for being leaderless. Since 2007 Somalia has had 10 prime ministers and six presidents, in spite of popular elections not being held since the 1980s.

What separates Australia from all these countries is the manner the leaders have been replaced. Leadership spills for sitting prime ministers are incredibly rare outside Australia, with most opting to quit the top job rather than take on an internal competitor.

In all, 15 countries have had more heads of state or government than Australia since 2007, and 178 haven’t.

The fifteen:

Greece – Seven prime ministers (one acting)
Guinea-Bissau – Seven prime ministers (two acting), seven presidents (three acting)
Haiti –Seven prime ministers (one acting)
Kyrgyzstan – Eleven prime ministers (two acting)
Libya– Eight prime ministers (two acting)
Madagascar– Eight prime ministers (one acting)
Mali– Seven prime ministers (two acting)
Moldova– Eight prime ministers (two acting)
Nepal– Seven prime ministers (one acting)
Romania – Seven prime ministers (two acting)
Switzerland– Nine Presidents of the Swiss Confederation
San Marino– Sixteen Captains-Regent
Somalia– Ten prime ministers (two acting), six presidents (three acting)
Thailand– Eight prime ministers (two acting)
Vanuatu– Twelve prime ministers