Political negotiations on a coalition will begin on Monday and could take several weeks.

Petr Necas, ODS's interim chairman, said on Sunday that there was confirmation of "a common will" between the three parties to form a coalition.

The trio are agreed that the country needs to reduce its national debt and undertake fundamental reforms.

Dominance ends

The election results brought an end to the dominance of the leftist Social Democrats (CSSD) and the rightist ODS seen during the last 15 years.

Support for smaller parties increased in relative terms.

The Social Democrats emerged as the biggest party, with 22.1 per cent of the vote - about 10 per cent lower than their result in 2006.

Taking second position was the ODS, with 20.2 per cent, down about 15 per cent from four years ago.

The Social Democrats are not in a position to form a viable coalition.

"It was clear that this election will mean a fundamental weakening of the two large parties. That's the basic result of this vote," Vaclav Klaus, the Czech Republic's president and ODS leader, said.

Tomas Lebeda, an analyst from the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, said: "All that is under 25 per cent is a failure for the big ones, and this is a thrashing."