Following Makarios’ death on 3 August 1977, the Speaker of the House, Spyros Kyprianou, assumed the presidency of the Republic, as provided by the constitution. Elections for a new president were to be held in 45 days, with a mandate for the rest of Makarios’ term in office. That was until February 1978. However, in the name of unity, party leaders agreed not to hold elections for such a short term. Thus, on 31 August 1977, Kyprianou was declared President of the Republic unopposed.
In November 1977 begins the election campaign for the presidential election of February 1978. On 10 November, DISY announced the candidacy of Glafkos Clerides, and 12 days later DIKO announced that its president Spyros Kyprianou would also contest the election. EDEK leader Vassos Lyssarides announced that he would run for the presidency if his proposals for agreeing a minimum co-operation program with DIKO and AKEL failed.

While a Clerides-Kyprianou battle was expected, Achilleas, the son of Spyros Kyprianou was abducted from the command camp where he was doing his military service (14 December 1977). The abduction created a climate of concerns and uneasiness, as it came as a confirmation of fears being disseminated by certain circles that dangers coming from subversive elements, related to the coup of 1974 had not been fully eliminated and that they reappeared after Makarios’s death.

Concerns were heightened by alarming warnings by politicians and parties about the possibility of a civil war if Achilleas was not released soon. Two days after the abduction, and while a mechanism had already been mobilized to rally the people around Spyros Kyprianou, Glafkos Clerides announced his decision not to seek the presidency in an effort to help calm the critical situation. Two days after Clerides’ withdrawal, Achilleas was released.

The abduction incident paved the way for Spyros Kyprianou to become President of the Republic by proclamation, rather, than through an election contest.