ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The leader of the Greek conservative party that gained the most votes in parliamentary elections said Monday his efforts to form a coalition government with other parties had failed, raising the possibility of a new election next month.
Conservative leader Antonis Samaras said his attempts to convince the heads of all the parties that might have been open to a coalition did not succeed, and that he had handed back the mandate to form a government to the country's president.
Greeks furious at how the two main parties have handled the financial crisis that left the country reliant on international bailouts deserted Samaras' conservative New Democracy and the socialist PASOK parties in droves Sunday, voting instead for smaller, and sometime extreme, parties on the left and right.
"I tried to find a solution for a government of national salvation, with two aims: for the country to remain in the euro and to change the policy of the bailout by renegotiation," Samaras said in a televised address.
"We did everything possible ... We directed our proposal to all the parties that could have participated in such an effort, but their either directly rejected their participation, or they set as a condition the participation of others who however did not accept," he said.
The mandate now goes to Alexis Tsipras, the 38-year-old head of the Radical Left Coalition party that came in second place in Sunday's election. Tsipras will have three days to seek a coalition.
If his talks fail, the party that came in third in Sunday's vote, the socialist PASOK headed by former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, will get the mandate for a further three days. If none of the parties can form a governing alliance, new elections will have to be called.