Greek opposition calls for early elections

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Leader of the left-wing Syriza party Alexis Tsipras, center, speaks to the media after his meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias, in Athens, on Monday, May 26, 2014. Greece’s main opposition party has formally requested an early general election after winning Sunday’s vote for the European Parliament, arguing that the country’s conservative government lacks the legitimacy to implement reforms related to international bailouts. Tsipras, visited Greece’s president Monday to make the request “to restore the democratic order in the country.” (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's main opposition party formally requested an early general election Monday after winning the vote for the European Parliament, arguing that the country's conservative government now lacks the legitimacy to implement reforms related to international bailouts.

Alexis Tsipras, the 39-year-old leader of the left-wing Syriza party, visited Greece's president to make the request "to restore the democratic order in the country."

He has vowed to cancel bailout agreements that rescued Greece from bankruptcy but also imposed harsh austerity measures.

With just over 99 percent of votes counted, Syriza was leading with 26.6 percent of the vote, while center-right coalition government leader New Democracy received 22.71 percent.

"There is a very large discrepancy between the people's will and the current makeup of parliament," Tsipras said. "It is clear that that there is not legitimacy to proceed with critical decisions that will bind the people and the country for years."

Sunday's election for Greece's 21 seats in the European Parliament was held together with runoff voting for local government — where Syriza won just two races for regional governor, while New Democracy won seven and four went to independents.

The government, midway through its four-year term, late on Sunday ruled out calling an early election, and reiterated that position Monday.

"Mr. Tsipras' efforts ... will come to nothing. This government will carry out its mandate and fulfil its responsibilities to the people and the constitution," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said.