00:30 That's all folks
That is almost all the votes counted and all the party leaders have each given their "victory speeches".
It will be up to Mariano Rajoy now to try and form a government as his party won the most votes. "I will try and form a government. What Spain needs is a stable government,” he said from the balcony of the Popular Party headquarters.
Meanwhile, Pedro Sanchez, socialist leader of the PSOE, will be in the wings seeking to step up with a left wing coalition if (and when) Rajoy fails to garner support as PM.
Podemos supporters are going home jubilant that they have become the third political force, while Ciudadanos believe they can wield influence with their 40 MPs.
Spain’s two-party system is dead but what lies ahead beyond uncertainty and a lot of pact building?
And so ends our live election coverage
00:11 Rajoy addresses crowds in Madrid "I will try to form a government"
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy addressed flag-waving PP supporters from a balcony outside the party's headquarters in Madrid.
"We've won the elections, thank you, because I know things haven't been easy, now we're stronger for the future," he said, referencing the harsh austerity measures adopted by his government.
"I'm going to try and form a government," said Rajoy, adding that "Spain needs a stable government".
"I will form a government with the sole aim of serving the needs of the Spanish people," he concluded.
Now the hard work begins. Who will help Rajoy form the government?
00:01 "Today everything starts"
Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera has spoken pledging to work to make Spain a better place with the 40 seats won by his party.
He has pledged work for electoral reform, a national pact for education, and to clean up politics.
"We will work to make Spain a better place for our children".
23:47 Socialist leader speaks, supporters want him for prime minister
Despite his party's dismal results, the irony is that Socialist leader could end up as prime minister if his party forms a left-wing coalition with Podemos and Ciudadanos.
23:40 Environmentalists cheer Podemos result
"This is a great result for Podemos, and for the environment, that's why I support them, green policies." Nestor pic.twitter.com/vBpbaJxZ0o— George Mills (@GeorgeMills25) December 20, 2015
23:38 Counting almost complete
98 percent counted and this is the allocation of seats:
PP wins biggest share with 122 seats (64 less than in 2011)
PSOE comes in a clear second with 91 seats (down from 110)
Podemos becomes third polticial force winning 69 seats
And Ciudadanos trailing in fourth place with 40 seats
23.33 Speech from Barcelona mayor Ada Colau
Colau was one of the Podemos-supported mayors who swept into power during Spain's regional elections this year.
She took to the stage in Barcelona where she made a moving speech, full of emotion. She shouted "I am proud" so many times her voice cracked and added "Thank you for proving the impossible is possible".
Colau is echoing the feelings of many Podemos supporters tonight, who see the result as an overwhelming victory for their young party, which is not even two years old.
23:28 Victory speech from Podemos
Pablo Iglesias has been giving a victory speech and outlining what he will and won't accept. Constitutional reform is mandatory, and a referendum on Catalonia. "Today a new Spain is born," said the Podemos leader.
.23:07 Deputy PM announcing election results live on TV: "PP has won election"
Spain's ruling conservative Popular Party won Sunday's general election with 28.7 percent of the vote, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said.
"According to the information we have, with 90.39 percent of the ballots counted, the Popular Party won this general election," she said.
The Socialists came in second place with 22.19 percent support, she added, closely followed by the new left-wing Podemos party in third place.
She refused to comment on possible pacts.
Screen shot: RTVE
23:04 Podemos supporters are joyous
The Local's George Mills is down at the Plaza Reina Sofia in a sea of purple.
Upbeat mood among Podemos supporters gathered in downtown Madrid. Chants of si se puede (yes we can) pic.twitter.com/Qcgwmghv40— George Mills (@GeorgeMills25) December 20, 2015
"We are really happy. Podemos is politics for people on the street. We've waited a long time for this" Bakea, Madrid pic.twitter.com/F5aWOXE69S— George Mills (@GeorgeMills25) December 20, 2015
22:59 Ciudadanos rules out lending support to either Rajoy or Sánchez as Prime Minister.
Los dirigentes de Ciudadanos ratifican que no votarán afirmativamente la investidura de Mariano Rajoy o Pedro Sánchez como presidente— Juan José Mateo (@JuanJoseMateo) December 20, 2015
Ciudadanos leaders confirm they will not support Mariano Rajoy or Pedro Sánchez as Prime Minsiter.
22:48 Supporters out in force
PP supporters are typically older Spaniards but these young hipsters were out supporting the ruling conservatives tonight.
Ciudadanos supporters looking downcast at a worse than expected result. Photo: AFP
22:25 What we have learnt so far:
Despite the weak smiles at the PP headquarters it has been a crushing defeat for the government. They have lost at least a third of the seats they held in 2011 although they will cling on the fact that they have remained the most voted for party.
Outside PP headquarters in Madrid. Photo: AFP
The PSOE loss in comparison is not so dreadful. They are down a mere dozen or so seats from the last general election but bear in mind that they were dealt a thrashing five years ago.
The big winner is Podemos who have gone from nothing to sending at least 70 candidates to parliament.
Ciudadanos have proved a big disappointment, winning half the seats of the radical left party, after being predicted in some polls to win the second largest share of the votes.
But one thing is apparent - there is no clear coalition in the offing, meaning we could have weeks of uncertainity ahead.
So this is what happens when you abandon the two-party system.
22:18 And the winner is…
While polls have Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy at the head of Spain’s most voted party for another four years, there is one list where he didn't make the cut.
Pablo Casado. Photo: PP
21:59 Just over 60 percent of the votes are now counted
And this is what the seat distribution looks like:
Podemos (and partners): 70
21:56 What next? Coalition scenarios based on exit polls
Rajoy (PP) and Sánchez (PSOE) Photo: AFP
21:40 "Spain's two-party system is dead"
21:35 Podemos supporters cheering the exit polls in Madrid
21:20 Some great business opportunities tonight!
I asked this man what drove him to come to PP HQ and he said: "I sell flags" pic.twitter.com/2DYh1Wfth6— Fiona Govan (@fifimadrid) December 20, 2015
21:10 First official results (with 9.7 percent of the vote counted)
PP: 118 seats (26.2 percent)
PSOE: 97 seats (23 percent)
Podemos: 64 seats (19.7 percent)
Ciudadanos: 26 seats (10.1 percent)
Note that these results are based on less than 10 percent of the total vote and are very preliminary.
21:05 Exit polls show a Podemos win in Catalonia
The poll shows:
En comu Podem (Catalan version of Podemos) - 12-13
The left-wing independence party the ERC - 9-11
The Socialists (PSC): 7-8
21:00 Quiet outside PP headquarters
Could it be Feliz Navidad for the ruling PP?
Not many people gathered outside PP HQ Maybe it is the cheesy Christmas music blaring out the speakers. pic.twitter.com/Bi5Pkh5Ka5— Fiona Govan (@fifimadrid) December 20, 2015
20:50: Nailbiting situation for the PP
So despite getting most votes the PP could be locked out of government if we see a coalition formed by PSOE, Podemos and Cs— Fiona Govan (@fifimadrid) December 20, 2015
Sondeos: Pésimo resultado de PSOE que, paradójicamente, podría sumar mayoría alternativa con dos partidos más. #ELPAIS20D— Fernando Garea (@Fgarea) December 20, 2015
"Polls: Terrible result for PSOE which, paradoxically, could form the biggest alternative bloc along with two other parties"
20:46 PP spokesman reacts to exit polls
20:25 Exit polls - what we know so far
According to the first two exit polls the ruling PP has won the most seats. RTVE is giving them 114-118 seats while Antena 3 is giving them 121-124 seats. Both these totals fall well below the 176 seats needed to maintain the absolute majority they currently enjoy.
The PSOE has won 81-85 seats according to RTVE and 79-83 according to Antena 3 - if the Antena 3 results are correct, this would be the worst showing ever for the Socialists.
Both polls are putting Podemos in third place and Ciudadanos in fourth.
If this is the case, Podemos has done much better than forecast in pre-election polls, while Ciudadanos has not done as well as expected.
Según sondeos a pie de urna, Podemos estaba infraestimado por las encuestas, Ciudadanos sobreestimado pic.twitter.com/7DBHuV0g6B— María Ramos (@RamosMa_) December 20, 2015
20:17 On the ground at PP headquarters
The Local´s editor, Fiona Govan, is on the ground at PP headquarters.
20:13 Antena3 exit poll also shows win for PP
Results of an exit poll by Spanish television station Antena 3 show the ruling Popular Party will be the most voted with 28.15 percent of the vote.
20:00: First exit polls coming out now
19.45: Welcome to The Local's live blog of the Spanish general election
Welcome to The Local's live blog. We will be following all the latest from Spain's general election once the polls close at 8pm.
Spain has gone to the polls today to elect all 350 members of its lower house of parliament in the tightest election in decades which polls suggest will end the traditional two party system.
It will be the 12th general election since the country returned to democracy following the death of dictator General Francisco Franco in 1975.
The outgoing parliament has 124 female lawmakers, who represent just over 35 percent of the total. That compares to an average of 25.9 percent in parliaments across Europe, according to the Switzerland-based Inter-Parliamentary Union, an organisation of parliaments.
The campaign gets violent
Mariano Rajoy suffered a painful end to his campaign to be re-elected as prime minister when on Wednesday, he was punched in the face by a cousin of his wife. Could the incident have generated some last-minute sympathy for Spain's PM, we wonder?