Abdoulaye Wade had always dreamed of becoming president of Senegal. Until joining the pan-Africanist movement of Joseph Ki-Zerbo, however, and then working for the party that eventually became the PS, his intentions were to inspire others to that role. Indeed, the culmination of his teaching, law practice, and his work with student unions and political parties convinced him to create his own party. In 1974, President Senghor recognized the legality of Wade's PDS, Senegal's first opposition party, marking Senegal's entry to multi-party politics.
In 1978, Wade was elected parliamentarian on the PDS ticket and reelected in 1983. He was defeated for the presidency in 1978, 1983, 1988, and 1993. Though he considered the 1988 and 1993 elections "stolen" by Abdou Diouf, he twice held the post of minister of state in Diouf's government, from April 1991 to October 1992 and from March 1994 to 1998. In 1994 he was charged with complicity in the murder of constitutional court vice president Boubacar Seye. He was also arrested for inciting the 1994 Dakar riots, but in both cases he was acquitted.
In October 1999, Wade returned to Dakar after more than a year of absence. He was met by an estimated one million supporters and given a similar reception in St. Louis. In March 2000, he became Senegal's third president, winning 58% in the second round to defeat Abdou Diouf. This historic victory marked Senegal's second peaceful transfer of power, and its first from one political party to another.