PRAGUE, JUNE 10 -- Civic Forum, the anti-Communist movement led by acting President Vaclav Havel, has won Czechoslovakia's first free elections in more than four decades, according to final voting results released tonight.
The Communist Party finished a surprising but distant second, slightly ahead of an alliance of three Christian Democratic parties.
Civic Forum and its Slovak counterpart, Public Against Violence, won about 46 percent of the votes cast in the two-day election, which ended Saturday. The two parties engineered the popular uprising that toppled the nation's Communist government in November.
Under a complex formula used to allocate representation in the new federal legislature, Civic Forum and People Against Violence will hold 169 of 300 seats -- 87 in the House of the People and 82 in the House of the Nations. Each house has 150 seats, and neither is considered an upper or lower chamber.
The Communist Party surprised everyone, including its members, by finishing second with 13.6 percent of the vote, good for 48 seats. The Christian Democrats had been expected to place second after running an aggressive campaign in both the Czech and Slovak republics but garnered only 40 seats.
Three smaller parties, including the separatist Slovak National Party, each gained fewer than 10 seats in each house.
Ninety-six percent of Czechoslovakia's 11.2 million voters went to the ballot boxes, the highest voter turnout of any East European election this year.
The margin of victory for the Civic Forum and Public Against Violence falls 11 seats short of the three-fifths majority it would need to push constitutional revisions and other major measures through parliament without a coalition. The party is expected to enter into a parliamentary alliance with the Christian Democrats.
Civic Forum leaders had said before the election that they would form a coalition to create broad-based support for their two-year transition government. That government faces the difficult task of drafting a democratic constitution and replacing Czechoslovakia's ailing, centrally planned economy with a free market system.
The strong showing by Civic Forum and Public Against Violence is primarily a vote of confidence for acting president Havel, who seems certain to be elected by the new parliament. But the vote also is a sign of confidence in the team of former dissident economists and artists who have run the government since November.
"Already now we can say that the longing for freedom, democracy and a different order prevailed in this election," Havel told state television tonight.
But the Forum's victory is expected to expose the philosophical and policy differences among disparate political groups that have coexisted under the Civic Forum umbrella until now.
"It's anybody's guess what will happen to Civic Forum," said one government official with ties to the party. "It could explode. It will have many representatives in parliament, but in the last six months, most of the representatives were not active in Civic Forum. Will Civic Forum be able to run itself, much less the legislators?"