A week after elections in Greece restructured the political pecking order in the country, President Papoulias was unable to make any progress on Sunday in steering the top three elected parties toward a coalition.
Papoulias met with conservative New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras and Evangelos Venizelos of the socialist Pasok until late on Sunday, but the talks ended without a resolution.
The discussions were set to resume on Monday evening, although Syriza has said it will not attend. Also invited will be the small Democratic Left party, which is seen as a potential king-maker in discussions.
"The president told me that up to now there is no possibility of forming a broad coalition," Fotis Kouvelis, the leader of the Democratic Left party told journalists on Sunday, later adopting an apparently stronger tone on Monday morning.
"No unitty government can emerge," Kouvelis said on Antenna television.
The president had previously spoken to the Democratic Left along with the other three parties in Athens that gained representation in last week's election - the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, the Independent Greeks, and the Communist party.
Earlier in the week, the top three parties in the election were each given a chance to form a coalition of their own. The New Democracy party, which won the polls and is led by Antonis Samaras, could not complete the task, nor could the next two parties in line: the radical left Syriza party led by Alexis Tsipras, and the socialist Pasok led by Evangelos Venizelos.
Syriza was catapulted into second position in last Sunday's election, after decades of dominance from New Democracy and Pasok - both of whom sustained heavy losses. The two traditional parties are in favor of largely sticking to the terms of the Greek loans from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund, or seeking to renegotiate them in Brussels. Syriza, meanwhile, rejects them outright, saying that last Sunday's ballot showed the Greek people do too.
Likelihood of elections
Even with Papoulias acting as a mediator in midday meetings on Sunday, the three parties did not reach a consensus.
Should Papoulias' efforts also fail, another election is the only remaining option under the Greek system - it would most likely be held June 10 or June 17. Theoretically, Papoulias' efforts could last until Thursday, May 17, the scheduled date for the opening of the new Greek parliament.
Syriza leader Tsipras said on Sunday he would not "join or support" a government that traded international bailouts for domestic austerity measures.
Despite the massive losses suffered by established political parties at the polls, a Kappa research poll published in the weekly To Vima newspaper ahead of the talks, said that over 70 percent of those surveyed were "desperate for a coalition government that will safeguard eurozone membership."
Greeceis headed for its fifth straight year of recession, with the EU Commission estimating a 4.7 percent economic contraction in 2012.
mz,rc /ai (AFP, dpa, AP)