ATHENS - Greece's ruling socialists and opposition conservatives offered rival plans for saving the nation from bankruptcy and safeguarding its euro zone membership, ignoring an appeal from the president to cooperate now on tackling the mess.
For Prime Minister George Papandreou, only a coalition government ruling for at least several months can set Greece on the road to national salvation and secure a financial lifeline from international lenders before the money runs out.But the conservative opposition flatly rejected the idea, offering its competing vision of snap elections -- and demanding Papandreou's resignation after two years of grappling with economic, political and social crisis.
All this disregarded an appeal by President Karolos Papoulias for the opposing sides of Greek politics to overcome their differences and get to work solving a crisis which risks wrecking international faith in the entire euro project.
"Consensus is the one and only way," Papoulias told the prime minister when he went to the presidential palace to launch his drive for a coalition government.
At immediate stake is the fate of Greece's 130 billion euro bailout, agreed by euro zone leaders to keep Athens afloat, and restore confidence on global financial markets that the euro zone nations can handle a crisis that could afflict much bigger economies such as Italy and Spain.