Crisis-hit Greece has one last chance to form a coalition government and avoid new elections that could signal its exit from the euro zone.
It is over a week now since an inconclusive poll saw support split between parties for and against the country’s international bailout.
Despite warnings Greece could run out of cash unless a new administration is formed, attempts to bridge the gap have so far proved fruitless.
“They are not going to agree,” said one man in Athens, who gave his name as George. “We are probably heading towards elections. Europe will stop giving us money and we won’t have food to eat.”
Another man believed fresh elections are preferable to a weak coalition.
“It would be better if they do not agree today so that one party will come to power and take all the responsibility so we can stop this blame game,” said Adonis.
However a new election might not solve the problem, said a man giving his name as Dionisios.
“Unless the circumstances change, no one is certain that we will get a government, even in the next election,” he said.
President Karolos Papoulias has been unable to break the deadlock between the radical left, opposed to austerity, and socialists and conservatives who agreed to it.
Leftist Alexis Tsipras will only join today’s last ditch talks on his own conditions. His Syriza party is poised to win a new vote, according to the opinion polls.