Greece’s centre-right leader, Antonis Samaras, has said he cannot form a coalition government, hours after he was given a mandate by the president.
His New Democracy, which backed the last EU bailout, emerged as the biggest party after Sunday’s election, but he said a coalition was “impossible”.
President Karolos Papoulias has now arranged a meeting for Tuesday morning with Alexis Tsipras, who leads the anti-bailout Syriza leftist coalition, which came second in Sunday’s vote.
And when that fails… The Irish Times hosts a Reuters report
In the face of what looks like an intractable impasse, another election in a few weeks could be the only way out, deepening doubts about Greece’s future.
“Country in Limbo” said a headline in the Imerisia newspaper. “Nightmare of Ungovernability” said Ta Nea daily.
Many Greeks seemed shocked at what they had done in an election earthquake that sent tremors across Europe and increased fears of a return to the euro zone debt crisis first sparked by Greece in 2009.
“I’m hopeful but also scared,” said 36-year-old Sofia Tsaliki, an office clerk. “New elections won’t bring anything, but at least we are giving a message to the politicians and Europeans that they need to take proper notice and cannot ignore us anymore.”
The result rattled investors, sending the euro to a three-month low and safe haven German government bond futures to record highs, although the index of top euro zone shares reversed early losses to head into positive territory, suggesting alarm about Greece’s ability to harm the wider euro zone was muted.
Analysts expressed deep gloom about Greece’s fate with Citigroup saying the odds of an exit from the euro zone had risen to between 50 and 75 per cent from 50 per cent previously.