ATHENS: A senior Greek judge took over as interim prime minister on Thursday, ahead of fresh elections expected next month after an inconclusive May 21 ballot.

Ioannis Sarmas, the head of the Court of Audit that monitors public finances, was sworn in to head a caretaker government tasked with calling the next election.

Parliament is set to temporarily convene on Sunday and be dissolved Monday when the election is formally announced.

Outgoing Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has called for a fresh election as early as June 25 after securing his party's biggest electoral triumph in years Sunday, but coming five seats short of being able to produce a single-party government.

Former leftist premier Alexis Tsipras, whose party Syriza won 71 seats to Mitsotakis's 146, also refused to form a coalition and has vowed to lead his party into the next battle.

Greek head of state Katerina Sakellaropoulou earlier this week noted that none of the three parties that led Sunday's polls was willing to form a coalition government.

Under a new electoral law that comes into play in the next ballot, the winner can obtain a bonus of up to 50 seats, facilitating the goal of securing at least 151 lawmakers in the 300-deputy parliament.

Based on Sunday's showing and that calculation, New Democracy is virtually assured of a victory.

In power over the last four years, former McKinsey consultant Mitsotakis has steered the country through the pandemic which devastated Greece's vital tourism industry.

Mitsotakis' term was blighted, however, by a wiretapping scandal as well as a train crash that killed 57 people in February.

Nevertheless, neither the accident nor the wiretapping scandal appears to have dented support for his conservatives -- who scored a far bigger win than that predicted by opinion polls ahead of the vote. - AFP