With the future of Greece's internationally mandated austerity measures hanging in the balance, the prospects for a new government in Athens are rapidly fading just four days after inconclusive parliamentary elections.
The elections left no clear winner. The conservative New Democracy party, which won the most votes, and the Radical Left Coalition, or Syriza, which came in second, have both already tried and failed to form a government. The baton now passes to the traditionally dominant socialist PASOK party, which came in a distant third in Sunday's polling.
The elections in France and Greece signaled a resounding popular rejection of the tough austerity measures being pushed by Germany, Europe's largest economy. But Berlin doesn't appear to be changing course.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been the leading voice for austerity in Europe. But election results over the weekend showed a voter backlash. Merkel said Monday that she still supported the austerity moves.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel made all the right gestures Monday: the obligatory phone call congratulating French President-elect Francois Hollande. She vowed that the two will "work together well and intensively." And she invited Hollande to Berlin after his inauguration and said she would welcome him "with open arms."
But clearly the French election results mark a setback for Merkel and her goal of solving Europe's economic crisis with financial austerity.
Greek newspapers on display at a newsstand in Athens on Monday after a stunning weekend election shake-up by parties opposed to further vital austerity cuts.
Credit Louisa Gouliamaki / AFP/Getty Images
Europe's unsettled political climate after the weekend elections in France and Greece raise one obvious question: What's next?
The elections, in which French President Nicolas Sarkozy was defeated and Greece's major political parties struggled to form a governing coalition, have raised fears about the political and economic stability of the European Union. Some potential scenarios coming out of the elections: