The leader of Greece’s New Democracy Party, which came in first in Sunday’s elections, said Monday that his efforts to form a national salvation administration had failed.
Antonis Samaras told reporters in Athens that he failed to entice parties opposed to the country's European Union-International Monetary Fund bailout deal to join a coalition:
"I did what I could so that there would be a result, but it was not possible. Thus, I informed the president of the republic and I handed back the mandate," Samaras said.
Samaras was rebuffed by Syriza party and the small Democratic Left group, while the nationalist Independent Greeks and the Communist party refused even to meet with him.
The development means that the leftist Syriza party -- which came in second and which opposes the bailout – is now charged with forming a government.
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras will be summoned by President Carolos Papoulias on Tuesday and given three days to form a government.
Tsipras has said he would seek to form a left-wing coalition to reject the loan agreement's "barbaric" measures.
In exchange for two bailouts amounting to 240 billion euros ($310 billion), Greece slashed pensions and pay, raised taxes, and eliminated government jobs.
Even though he failed to unify the winning parties in Monday’s elections, Samaras said his party was the first to speak out against the EU-IMF bailout. That early warning led the way for wider opposition, he said.
"We had an obligation and we did whatever was possible. I remind everyone that we are the only party that had warned that the policy of the bailout would fail because of the insufferable discontent it caused. And this failure led to the result yesterday," he said, adding, "We are glad that some, even if late, realized the need for renegotiating, which was once criticized when we first said it."
Commenting on the Greek election results – which, as in France, signaled a rejection by voters of the EU-mandated austerity measures -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country’s economic reforms were of "utmost importance."
In the wake of Monday's two elections, the euro has slumped to a three-month low and shares on European markets have fallen.
The spokeswoman for the European Commission, Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, said Brussels had every expectation that Greece’s new government would honor the past government’s agreements.
That includes finding, by June, another 11.5 billion euros ($15 billion) in savings over the next two years.
Based on reporting by the BBC, Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa