Samak Sundaravej, leader of Thailand's People's Power Party (PPP) and ally of ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra, appeared to emerge victorious in Thailand's first post-coup election.
Despite its victory, the PPP failed to secure the 241 seats required for an absolute majority in parliament, according to unofficial results from the Election Commission.
As exit poll data arrived, these Democratic party supporters were celebrating at party HQ in Bangkok. They later appeared to have won 166 seats in the 480-seat house.
Just over a year after Thailand's bloodless military coup, its soldiers were out with the rest of the country voting in a general election due to "restore democracy".
The commission predicted turnout could reach 70% as voters mobilised across the country, including in the troubled south where Thailand's Muslim minority is concentrated.
Ballot-boxes were sealed just after 1500 (0800 GMT) for the count to begin.