Bangkok: Thai voters have delivered a clear rejection of nearly a decade of military-aligned rule, election results showed Monday, backing two opposition parties.
The Move Forward Party (MFP), the newest force in Thai politics, secured the most votes.
Led by charismatic 42-year-old Pita Limjaroenrat, the MFP wants to reform Thailand's strict royal insult laws.
Thais went to the polls in large numbers on Sunday after a campaign pitting a young generation yearning for change against the conservative elite embodied by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha.
"I feel like my country has (hope) for the future," Beam, 29, a personal assistant in Bangkok who coted for the MFP and took part in the 2020 protests, told AFP on Monday. "People have really opened their eyes."
With ballots counted from 99 percent of polling stations, Election Commission data showed MFP on 14 million in the popular vote followed by Pheu Thai on 10.6 million.
The United Thai Nation party, led by Prayut, was a distant third on 4.6 million.
While not declaring victory, Pita said late Sunday that a coalition deal is "definitely on the cards".
Pheu Thai, which has been the most popular party for two decades, has been hoping for a landslide win that would allow it to lead a coalition.
Pheu Thai leader Paetongtarn Shinawatra, daughter of party patriarch and exiled billionaire Thaksin, congratulated MFP on their success and signalled cooperation in a potential future government.
"We can work together," she said.
The new premier will be chosen jointly by the 500 elected MPs in the lower house, plus 250 senate members appointed by Prayut's junta.
The Election Commission is not expected to officially confirm the final number of seats won by each party for several weeks.
But early Monday it forecast MFP and Pheu Thai to each win 112 out of a total of 400 constituency seats. MFP would then likely secure a greater number of the remaining 100 seats to be allocated to parties on a proportional basis.