Benjamin Mkapa has been active in CCM for much of his adult life, and worked closely with both President Nyerere and President Mwinyi. He was a protégé of Nyerere, and it was with this first president's backing that Mkapa emerged as the CCM candidate for the nation's first multiparty election in decades. In the 1995 elections, the newly organized political parties that emerged after the opening of the system in 1992 were no match for the decades-old political power of the CCM. Mkapa further benefited from the active role Nyerere took in campaigning on his behalf.
The vote on 29 October 1995 was marred by procedural errors and delays, which led to the returns from Dar es Salaam being nullified. A revote for Dar es Salaam was held on 19 November. Many of the opposition parties boycotted the rerun, charging that insufficient procedural guarantees were in place. Since the 22 October Zanzibari presidential election had been tainted with fraud, leading to a disputed victory for the CCM candidate, tensions were high for the Tanzania election. There were no allegations of fraud in the elections and Benjamin Mkapa won the presidential balloting with 61.8% of the 6.1 million votes cast. CCM candidates also won 75% of the seats in the National Assembly, thus handing Mkapa a stable legislative base for his first five-year term. Benjamin Mkapa was sworn in as Tanzania's third president on 23 November 1995. Omar Ali Juma (the former First Minister of Zanzibar), who was Mkapa's running mate, became vice president. In October 2000, Mkapa overwhelmingly won reelection for a second and final five-year term in office, with a large CCM majority in the National Assembly.