Greece's president is to meet political party leaders in a last-chance effort to broker a deal for a coalition government and avoid another general election. Karolos Papoulias took the step on Saturday after socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos officially gave up the mandate to form a coalition government after three rounds of negotiations proved fruitless. Mr Papoulias' office announced that the president would initially meet the heads of the three parties that won the most votes in last Sunday's inconclusive elections - the conservative New Democracy, radical left-wing Radical Left Coalition (Syriza) and socialist PASOK. He will then meet each leader of the other four parties that won enough votes for parliamentary seats - the right-wing nationalist Independent Greeks, the Communists, the extreme-right Golden Dawn and the moderate left Democratic Left. The format was designed to bring everyone to the table, as Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras had threatened to boycott the talks rather than sit at the same table with Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos. In theory, the president's talks with the party leaders could drag until the scheduled date for the opening of the new parliament on May 17. In practice, precedent shows that talks could take two or three days, George Katrougalos, a professor of constitutional law, said. It is also possible that an impasse could be reached today. If Mr Papoulias fails to broker a coalition agreement, Greece will have to hold new elections next month, most likely on June 10th or 17, prolonging the political uncertainty and bringing Greece's euro membership into question. Mr Venizelos was the third party leader to try to cobble together a governing coalition after elections last Sunday gave no party enough parliamentary seats to form a government. Voters furious at two years of harsh austerity measures taken in return for international bailouts worth 240 billion euros (£193 billion) rejected Greece's two formerly dominant parties, Venizelos' socialist PASOK and the conservative New Democracy, in favour of smaller parties on the left and right. The turmoil has alarmed Greece's international creditors, who have stressed that the country must stick to the terms of its rescue deal if it hopes to continue receiving the funds that have been keeping it afloat since May 2010. Whether Greece should adhere to the strict austerity measures required for the bailout loans or pull out of the deal has been at the heart of the wrangling over creating a coalition government. Copyright © 2012 The Press Association. All rights reserved.