But Tsipras remained adamant that the austerity measures meant Greece's recession-bound economy could never recover.
"They wanted to leave the country without hope and for us to add our signature to these measures of poverty and desperation," he said. "We will not do them that favor."
Venizelos and Samaras could have formed a government with the small Democratic Left party of Fotis Kouvelis, but all insisted Tsipras had to be on board or at least lend his backing if the government hoped to push through yet more austerity measures Greece must implement next month. A last-ditch proposal by the president for the creation of a technocrat government went nowhere.
"I did what I could . Let all Greeks draw their conclusions, and all parties assume their responsibilities," Kouvelis said.
Opinion polls show Syriza is likeliest to come first in the new vote, but without enough seats in parliament to govern alone. However, as first party, Syriza would enjoy an automatic 50-seat bonus and could hope to form a coalition with the help of other left and right-wing anti-austerity parties.
"These upcoming elections will be a struggle between the left-leaning forces of nihilism in league with opportunistic populists," New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said. "On the other side will be a European front, strong and determined."
Many Greeks seem resigned to the need for new polls, even though that will hold back the country's commitments to detail new harsh cutbacks.
"The solution is provided by democracy and democratic procedures," said Athens resident Yannis Ekaterinaris.
But others saw no hope of any change, saying a new election won't solve their problems.
Dmitris Mardas, an associate professor of economics at Thessaloniki University, said the timing of the vote would be especially painful in June, key dates for Greece's tourism industry.
"As far as the economy is concerned, this is the worst thing that could have happened," said Mardas. "It's just what we didn't need."
Associated Press writer Derek Gatopoulos contributed to this report from Athens.
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