Store on Monday toppled a center-right coalition led by conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg, in power since 2013.
“We waited, we hoped, and we worked so hard, and now we can finally say it: we did it!
With 97.5% of the vote counted, Labor and four other center-left parties could achieve a combined majority of 100 seats, up from 81 currently, according to the Election Directorate’s forecast.
A minimum of 85 seats is required to obtain a majority of the 169 seats in parliament.
“Norway has sent a clear signal: the election shows that the Norwegian people want a fairer society,” said the 61-year-old millionaire who campaigned against social inequalities.
Norway’s position as the largest oil and gas producer in Western Europe was at the heart of the election campaign after the August climate report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPCC) put the issue high on the agenda. Store called for a gradual transition of the oil economy, while the Greens called for an immediate end to oil exploration. Conservatives also called for a transition away from the fossil fuels that have made Norway so wealthy.
“I want to congratulate Jonas Gahr Store, who now appears to have a clear majority for a change of government,” Solberg, 60, said in his concession speech.
To form a viable cabinet, Stoere might need to persuade potential center-left partners to compromise on policies ranging from oil and private property to Norway’s relations with the European Union.
“We as the bigger party will ensure that Norway has a new government and a new course,” Store said in a speech to party members.
“In the coming days, I will invite the leaders of all parties who want a change,” he said, adding that he would start with the Center Party and the socialist left.
The petroleum sector accounts for 14 percent of Norway’s gross domestic product, as well as 40 percent of its exports, and directly employs 160,000 people.
It also helped the country of 5.4 million people build the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, now worth nearly 12 trillion crowns ($ 1.4 trillion).
Former government minister under Jens Stoltenberg between 2005 and 2013, Store should now start negotiations with the Center, which above all defends the interests of its rural base, and the Socialist Left, an ardent defender of environmental issues.
Store is also committed to tackling inequality by lowering taxes for low- and middle-income families and raising rates for the rich.