Greek conservatives to seek coalition partners

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Left Coalition party leader Alexis Tsipras greets supporters with a clenched fist, in central Athens after elections on Sunday, May 6, 2012. Tsipras was projected to come second in the poll, behind the front-runner conservatives, on a pledge to cancel Greece's bailout agreements. (AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's president has handed conservative leader Antonis Samaras the mandate to start coalition-building talks, a day after a national election resulted in a hung parliament.

Samaras' New Democracy party came first with 18.85 percent and 108 of Parliament's 300 seats, while parties opposing Greece's draconian austerity program received about 50 percent of the vote.

Samaras backs the country's bailout commitments for cutbacks but has called for some changes to the plan.

After receiving the mandate from Karolos Papoulias on Monday, Samaras now has three days during which to build a coalition strong enough to govern.

If he fails, the mandate will go to the heads of the second and third parties, the Radical Left Coalition and PASOK, who again will have three days each to conclude their talks.