The votes have been counted, the results are in and now the serious work of trying to cobble together a coalition government begins.

Greeks woke this morning to a confusing result that, while tilting ever so slightly toward the pro-bailout parties, does little to ease the threat of a devastating exit from the euro zone that still hangs over Athens.

Antonis Samaras' New Democracy party, de facto supporters of the hated EU/IMF bailout, squeaked out a narrow victory in Sunday's polls, claiming 29.6 percent of the vote and 129 seats compared to second-place SYRIZA's 26.9 percent and 71 seats. (ND was granted an extra 50 seats in parliament simply by coming in first place.)

The crisis has been postponed, not necessarily averted, Theodore Couloumbis, political analyst and vice president of Athens-based think tank ELIAMEP told Reuters.

Markets too have taken a mostly negative view of the result, with European banking stocks falling sharply amid lingering concerns the country is still headed for a disorderly exit from the euro.

Early gains were quickly reversed, and by mid-morning Germany's Commerzbank was down 3 percent with France's BNP falling 2 percent.

Italian and Spanish borrowing costs also rose sharply with yields on Spain's 10-year bonds at dangerously high levels of over 7 percent with equivalent Italian debt over 6 percent.

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras has taken up the opposition mantle, vowing to oppose the bailout and austerity conditions that have wrought so much economic misery on an already-battered Greek population.

The upstart, however, should be buoyed by the result, as one BBC political commentator pointed out: Greece had come within three percentage points of being ruled by a party whose HQ is smaller than a primary school.

Typifying the unprecedented nature of the Greek problem, Tsipras and his coalition of left-wing parties have gone from obscure unknowns to being within a whisker of running a NATO country and destroying the single currency.

But despite his meteoric rise, it appears Tsipras has not let the ascendancy go to his head.

He has agreed to step aside and not try to form a coalition of his own, allowing Samaras to seek a government with what remains of the former ruling PASOK party and the Democratic Left.

Indeed, after the drawn-out scramble following May's inconclusive elections, the signs are that this time Greece may have a working government in the near future.

With their 50-seat bonus, a New Democracy-PASOK alliance would have a narrow 162-seat majority in the 300-seat Greek parliament generally committed to the 130 billion-euro ($164 billion) bailout.

Talks have already begun, with Samaras due to meet the head of PASOK, Evangelos Venizelos, at 3 p.m. GMT Monday.

And while Venizelos is still undecided about whether to join ND in a government, he has already vowed to support Samaras in parliament.

But winning the election was only ever half the battle. Now comes the real fight to keep the country from imploding.

Greece is shouldered with a crippling debt, soaring unemployment and a tanking economy.

Whoever ends up governing faces the immediate challenge of finding 11.7 billion euros in deeply unpopular spending cuts in June alone, just to qualify for the next tranche of bailout money needed to keep the country running.

Acutely aware of his precarious position, and in a nod toward Greece's creditors, Samaras has already promised to fulfill the country's obligations.

However, in a bid to pacify the boiling anger Greeks have shown toward punitive austerity measures, he added: We will simultaneously have to make some necessary amendments to the bailout agreement in order to relieve the people of crippling unemployment and huge hardships.

In the long term, however, a Samaras government will have the seemingly impossible task of trying to slice into already desiccated national coffers, all the while trying to satisfy lenders threatening to cut the thin thread of money that suspends Greece above a financial abyss.

It is a task those inside and outside Greece assume Samaras will fail at.

I don't think anything good will come out of these elections, Dinos Arabatzis, a 56-year-old taxi driver who voted for New Democracy, told Reuters.

Whoever is in power now will get burned. Samaras will get burned, and Tsipras will come out much stronger if we go to elections again -- that's what worries me.

If this victory for ND turns sour, if the austerity budgets continue to bite into people's savings, their welfare checks and their employment status as they have so far, then an ND-PASOK coalition will fail spectacularly.

And waiting in the wings are the radical alternatives, eager to lap up the disenchanted, the unemployed and the dispossessed.

No wonder Tsipras was so keen to concede defeat.