The Greek public doesn't want a new adventure, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras warned Saturday as he sought to stave off a snap election by urging lawmakers to choose a new president in a third and final round of voting.
"The Greek people don't want early elections. The Greek people understand where this adventure could lead," Samaras said in an interview on NERIT public television.
"I have done and I am doing everything in my power to avert early elections."
Lawmakers on Tuesday failed to choose a successor to President Karolos Papoulias in a second round of voting.
The government's candidate, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, fell 32 votes short of the required 200 votes, meaning a final vote will be held on December 29.
If MPs do not rally behind Dimas, the political stalemate would automatically prompt an early general election.
European Union and International Monetary Fund officials fear an early election would be won by the anti-austerity, radical leftist Syriza party and could undermine Greece's international bailout and rekindle a eurozone crisis.
Samaras called on MPs from all parties to "help push the country away from a new crisis".
Failure to elect a new president on Monday would "equal political blackmail", he said.
In a bid to sway independent MPs, Samaras last week already offered to hold elections in 2015, provided that a president is elected and that tough talks with the country's EU-IMF are concluded first.
But Greek newspapers on Saturday said despite the premier's last-ditch efforts, parties were bracing for snap elections.
Greece recently secured a two-month extension from its international creditors to conclude an ongoing fiscal audit that will determine the release of some 7.0 billion euros ($8.7 billion) in loans.
This extension expires in February, and the finance ministry has warned that the state will face cash difficulties from March onwards.
In 2012, back-to-back elections were needed in May and June to form a shaky coalition government, stalling Greece's fiscal reforms and sparking speculation that the country was about to be ejected from the eurozone.