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Greece: Biggest Party Unable To Form Coalition
Greece is in chaos after parties said they were unable to form a coalition - renewing fears Athens may default on debts and leave the eurozone.
No-one won enough votes in the weekend elections to govern alone meaning party leaders are under pressure to work together.
But the leader of the conservative New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras - who won 19% of the vote - said he was unable to form a coalition after the second placed leftwing Syriza party refused to join.
It means that public spending cuts agreed in return for bailouts from the EU, the IMF and European Central Bank, will now be difficult to implement.
In a week's time, the new Greek government is supposed to redeem 436m euros (£351m) of debt, held by private creditors who turned down a swap last month.
It must also recapitalise Greek banks that sustained heavy losses in that swap, which cut some 106bn euros from Greece's near- and mid-term debt of more than 350bn euros.
And Greece's previous administration had already promised its EU-IMF creditors that in June it would find another 11.5bn euros ($9.3bn) in savings through 2014.
In comments widely quoted by Greek newspapers on Saturday, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that if the new government did not meet its commitments the country would "bear the consequences".
The coalition baton has now been passed to Syriza, which won 51 seats with 16.6% of the vote.
Its leader, 38-year-old Alexis Tsipras, has three days to try to form the coalition.
If Mr Tsipras's negotiations fail, Pasok, the party that came in third in Sunday's vote, headed by former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, will get the mandate for a further three days.
And if none of the parties can form a governing alliance, new elections will have to be called.
"There can be no government of national salvation," said Mr Tsipras.
"Signatures on the EU-IMF loan agreement are not a salvation but a tragedy," he added.
"We will exhaust all possibilities to reach an understanding, primarily with the forces of the left."
Greek markets reacted to the electoral uncertainty by closing down 6%.
The socialist Pasok party and the conservatives of New Democracy (ND) secured just 32.4% between them, down from 77.4% in 2009, according to interior ministry figures based on 95% of the vote.
More than 50% of Greeks voted for parties opposed to the cuts.
After 40 minutes of negotiations with New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, Mr Tsipras said the two parties' views were diametrically opposed.
He demanded the cancellation of austerity measures many blame for deepening economic woes.
Mr Samaras was also meeting with the head of the former ruling party, now the third largest party, Pasok - but that meeting appears to have been unsuccessful.
New political forces in Greece include a nationalist party called Independent Greeks and the staunchly Stalinist Communist party.
The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party is also set to enter parliament for the first time in almost 40 years.
It won 21 seats and about 7% of the popular vote, compared to less than 1% in the 2009 election
Golden Dawn's policies include placing landmines on the Turkish border to stem illegal immigration.