Following the signing of the Zurich and London Agreements for the Independence of Cyprus, a Transitional Commission / Government was established in April 1959, with seven (7) Greek Cypriots and three (3) Turkish Cypriot Ministers under Archbishop Makarios and Fazil Kucuk. The transitional period was expected to lead soon to the proclamation of an independent Republic, provided the parties agreed on pending constitutional and other issues.
The first contest to elect the President of the new Republic took place on December 13, 1959, with Archbishop Makarios challenged by Ioannis Clerides.
Consultations and efforts involving Makarios and his supporters, AKEL and conservative forces opposing Makarios aimed to avoid electoral confrontation and elections taking place. The consultations proved fruitless and conservative politicians decided to form their own politcal movement and challenge Makarios. Leaders of the new formation were two veteran politicians, political opponents for decades: They were, Themistocles Dervis, mayor of Nicosia for decades, and Ioannis Clerides, mayor of Nicosia for one term. He was elected in 1946 with the support of AKEL, against Dervis. At a gathering in Nicosia in the last week of November 1959, they founded the Democratic Union and announced the candidacy of John Clerides. AKEL announced that it supported Ioannis Clerides.
It is noted that AKEL was outlawed since 1955 and lifting its ban was a matter of disagreement between London and Washington, with the latter opposing the lifting of the ban. The ban of AKEL was finally lifted on 4 December 1959, shortly after the presidential candidates’ nominations.
The election campaign had been short but tough, with some clashes in a tensed environment of severe accusations and counter-accusations. Makarios announced that he would not run an election campaign, and the Patriotic Front conducted it on his behalf. The Patriotic Front had replaced EDMA, an organization created in April 1959 to offer shelter to all political forces beyond AKEL. Problems and disagreements that arose between his leaders and Makarios soon led EDMA to disintegration.
The main means of the campaign were visits and public gatherings in villages and the cities, while the press had been eager to broadly disseminate the positions and messages of both candidates and their supporters. With the exception of AKEL’s mouthpiece, Haravgi, and the right-wing Ethniki, all the newspapers took a stand in favor of Makarios, backing and presenting his positions while fighting his opponent.
The basic theme of the campaign was of course the agreements for the independence of the island and their content, in particular provisions such as those on the British sovereign bases and the Treaties of Guarantee and of Alliance. Ioannis Clerides and AKEL also focussed on the way power was exercised by Makarios, accusing him of authoritarianism and of serving the privileged classes instead of the workers, farmers and employees. Makarios’ supporters accused Yiannis Clerides of  collaborating with the British during the EOKA struggle, while warning that various classes of the people might face problems if AKEL and Clerides won the election.
Makarios’ victory was relatively comfortable. He was elected first president of independent Cyprus, securing 2/3 of the vote – 66.9%.
In the Turkish Cypriot community efforts to avoid electoral confrontation borne fruits, and Fazil Kucuk was elected unopposed Vice-President of the Republic, on 4 December 1959.