• Premier asks voters to renew his mandate in Sept. 20 elections
  • Greek president to appoint caretaker government ahead of vote

Outgoing Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras refused to lead a coalition government with the country’s main opposition parties, if he fails to secure a parliamentary majority in next month’s parliamentary election.

The 41-year-old leader said he wouldn’t become prime minister if it entailed joining forces with New Democracy, Pasok or the River -- the parties that backed his deal with euro-area member states for a new bailout this month, when about a quarter of his own lawmakers staged a mutiny.

“I believe that all three parties basically represent the old political system,” he told Greece’s Alpha TV channel in an interview on Wednesday.

Tsipras, however, didn’t exclude the possibility of a unity government after the ballot, just that he wouldn’t want to be at its helm. After eight turbulent months in power that saw Greece on the verge of leaving the euro, he was forced to step down after a revolt within his Syriza party stripped him of a majority in the 300-seat parliament.

“What I said is that I won’t be the prime minister,” he added, when asked if his party would back a coalition. He called on voters to assess his record and give him an absolute majority in the country’s 300-seat chamber.

President Prokopis Pavlopoulos is expected to dissolve parliament by Friday and call elections for Sept. 20. Negotiations for the formation of a unity government will be formally declared deadlocked at 1 p.m. local time on Thursday, when the leader of the third biggest party in the Greek parliament, Panagiotis Lafazanis, hands over his mandate to Pavlopoulos, joining main opposition New Democracy in failing to secure a parliamentary majority, after Tsipras’s resignation.

The president will then dissolve parliament and swear in a caretaker prime minister who will lead the country to ballots for the third time this year.

Syriza Dissenters

Lafazanis formed the Popular Unity party this month after leading a mass exodus of Syriza dissenters against the government’s decision to capitulate to creditors’ demands in exchange for a new bailout loan. Tsipras said Wednesday that there was no alternative to the agreement, as a failure of talks would lead to “the national disaster” of euro exit.

“If I had gone up and left, as my heart was telling me,” Tsipras said, referring to all-night talks with creditors last month, which led to the bailout agreement, Greece would face an unprecedented crisis, “the collapse of the banks, potentially a civil clash in the country.”

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