Tunisia's leading secular party Nidaa Tounes has won 85 seats in the new 217-member parliament after Sunday's election, while Islamist party Ennahda secured 69 seats, according to results released by electoral authorities on Thursday.
Tunisians voted on Sunday in a parliamentary elections that was one of the last steps in the North African country's transition to democracy after the 2011 uprising against Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
By voting for Nidaa Tounes, Tunisians appeared to prefer the country's long-established elites over Ennahda, with some hoping for a return of what was a more orderly time before the revolution.
Ennahda, the first Islamist movement to secure power after the "Arab Spring" revolts, conceded defeat in the election that was only the second free vote since Ben Ali's autocratic rule ended.
Since Nidaa Tounes fell short of a majority, it would need the support of other parties to form a government.
Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri, reporting from Tunis, said that talks between Nidaa Tounes and other parties for formation of a coalition government have already begun.
"With these numbers, Nidaa Tounes doesn't need Ennahda to make a majority and form a government. It can go ahead with smaller parties which may be more ideologically closer to it, placing Ennahda in opposition for the next four years,' she said.
Nidaa Tounes is headed by Beji Caid Essebsi, 87, who previously served as foreign minister in the 1980s and parliament speaker in the early 1990s under Ben Ali.
He is considered a frontrunner in the November 23 presidential election.
Mohsen Marzouk, a Nidaa Tounes official, said "the question of [forming a] government will be sorted out after the presidential election", meaning the end of December if a run-off is required.
In a statement, his party stressed that now was the time for "dialogue and consensus" and urged "all political parties to minimise frictions".
Ennahda chief Rached Ghannouchi, at a press conference, struck the same conciliatory tone but warned against any return to one-party rule.
Ennahda had not lost but rather scored "a significant victory" by coming in either first or second place in all regions of the country, he said.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies