The New Democrats, under leader Rachel Notley, will form the next government in Alberta.

The stunning NDP majority win ends 44 years of government under the Progressive Conservatives, who have been in power in the province since 1971.

Former premier Jim Prentice resigned earlier this evening, but managed to keep his seat in Calgary-Foothills. The NDP swept all 19 constituencies in Edmonton and made gains in Calgary, while the Wildrose Party dominated in rural areas.

Notley's approval ratings rose after an April 22 leaders' debate. The Wildrose party, a significant opposition during the last election, lost some momentum after the departure of former leader Danielle Smith (who left the party to left the party to join the Progressive Conservatives). Under its new leader Brian Jean, Wildrose nevertheless still won 20 seats compared to the PC's 11.

Prentice was criticized on social media after telling Notley that "math is difficult" during the debate, after she challenged his inaccurate statement that the corporate tax rate would jump to 20 per cent under an NDP government (she suggested a 12 per cent tax). After accusations of sexism, Prentice was later forced to backtrack, saying he meant no offense.

The PC, whose reputation took a hit since former premier Alison Redford's expense scandal, had tried to rebuild its reputation under party leader Jim Prentice. Prentice sparked controversy earlier this year when he said Albertans needed to "look in the mirror" to see who is responsible for the province's economic troubles.

Despite earning some praise for his "tough love" budget, Prentice's campaign was rocked by party in-fighting and Tory Justice Minister John Denis' resignation, barely a week before the vote. When five business leaders held a press conference earlier this week, urging Albertans vote Conservative, one CEO warned that corporations may stop donating to charities like the Stollery Children's Hospital if the NDP got into power. The remark caused further backlash from voters on the eve of the election.

The NDP, by contrast, had relatively few scandals during the campaign, though the party's support was largely concentrated in urban areas like Edmonton.

Notley has openly stated she did not support the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, and that she would raise corporate taxes by two per cent. Federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair congratulated Notley on her victory, saying he was inspired by the "hopeful, optimistic" campaign she ran.