Days of hard political bargaining are expected in Portugal as party leaders negotiate compromises to find a stable government following a general election that produced no clear winner.

The previous center-right coalition government collected most votes in Sunday's ballot despite enacting austerity policies, but it lost its outright majority in Parliament where it can be out-voted by left-of-center lawmakers who want to ease or scrap austerity.

With eurozone member Portugal still recovering from a 78 billion-euro ($88 billion) bailout in 2011, the political gridlock could make markets jumpy about the 19-nation bloc's finances again.

Pedro Passos Coelho, Portugal's prime minister for the past four years, said Wednesday he has asked to meet with the leader of the country's main center-left Socialist Party in an effort to build a solid government.