ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece drew closer to holding repeat elections next month after Radical Left leader Alexis Tsipras said Wednesday he has failed to forge a coalition that would end the financially struggling country's political deadlock.
Tsipras, whose anti-austerity party was the surprise runner-up in weekend national elections, said that despite his best efforts since receiving the presidential mandate on Tuesday, he was unable to raise enough support to form a government.
Tsipras has been seeking support for a left-wing government that will reject the terms of Greece's international bailout — which critics say will lead the country out of the euro.
He was tasked with forming a government after first-placed conservative leader Antonis Samaras — who backs the country's international bailout terms — failed to do so within hours of getting the mandate on Monday.
Next in line is Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos, Greece's former finance minister. If he also fails, the president will host party leaders in a last-ditch effort to avoid new elections next month.
"We saw that our proposal enjoys broad social support but weak parliamentary backing," Tsipras, 38, told a meeting of party lawmakers. "We can't make our dream come true and form a left-wing government."
On Sunday, voters angered by years of Europe's harshest austerity program — implemented to secure vital international bailouts and fend off bankruptcy — hammered mainstream politicians but left no party with enough seats in Parliament to govern alone.
Earlier Wednesday, Tsipras met with Samaras and Venizelos, but failed to win their support.
Samaras said he explained to Tsipras that his demands for Athens to reject the country's international bailout deal would lead Greece into bankruptcy. Samaras reiterated he was prepared to even back a minority government on condition that the country remain in the European Union's joint euro currency.
"I explained to Mr. Tsipras that the conditions he set do not lead to a renegotiation of the bailout policy, but to a unilteral denunciation of it and to the country's immediate bankruptcy," he said after meeting with the radical left leader.
"By repudiating the agreement, Mr. Tsipras is asking for something ... that will isolate Greece. He's not asking me to withdraw my signature (from the bailout). He's asking me to accept Greece's exit from the euro and the country's bankruptcy. I will not do that."
Given that the Communist Party refuses to join any government and no parties are talking to the extreme right Golden Dawn, which won 21 seats, no coalition can be formed without Samaras.
PASOK, which has dominated Greek politics along with the rival conservatives New Democracy for four decades, came in a humiliating third in Sunday's elections, with 13.18 percent — its lowest since 1974 when it was formed after the fall of a seven-year dictatorship.