The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) saw its latest presidential election on January 9, 2005, following the death of the historical, first and long-lived Leader Yasser Arafat. President of the PLO since the birth of the organization in 1994 and reconfirmed by the 1996 elections, he served the Palestinian cause from an early age. Emblematic leader and protagonist of some of the most significant historical passages of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as the signing of the Oslo Accords of 1993, the Second Intifada and the Camp David agreements of the 2000s, he was also the first Palestinian leader to intervene with a speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations. He was one of the founders of the historic Al-Fatah party, which is member of the Socialist International and leader of the Palestinian people for over fifty years. Arafat died on 11 November, 2004: although the discussions and researches aimed at determining the real cause of his death have long continued to prove conflicting and at times controversial, it is a well-established opinion that the President of the PLO died of illness in the military hospital of Clamart, France.
With a half-proportional and half-uninominal electoral system, those for the Palestinian National Authority (ANP) in 2005 were sufficiently pluralistic elections, which saw the strong rise of radical Islamic movements such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad (eventually boycotted). From the beginning, the favorite candidate proved to be Mahmud Abbas, founder and historical member of al-Fatah, who in fact came out as winner, confirmed by 60% of the votes.
In the hope of ending the suffering of the Palestinians and in a context of general optimism coming from Israel toward new possibilities of dialogue (as witnessed by several government sources), Abbas in the enthusiasm of the cheering crowd of Ramallah decided to dedicate his electoral victory to Yasser Arafat, "martyred brother". From the Muqata palace, his words to the population read: "I thank the Palestinian people for their democratic spirit and I am happy for this day of democracy.". Several had been the political and institutional positions held by Abbas: first member of the Palestinian National Council in 1968 and of the Organization for the Liberation of Palestine in 1981, he assumed the position of Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the PLO in 1996 and became Prime Minister in 2003 under the chairmanship of Arafat.
Since that January 9, 2005, Abu Mazen, an honorary title aimed at identifying Mahmud Abbas, has held the role of Arafat's direct successor and until today assumes the position of President of the PLO and the Palestinian National Authority.
As already mentioned, after 2005 no further presidential elections were held, which was mainly due to the continuous clashes between the two main Palestinian political parties, Al-Fath and Hamas, which since 2014 continued to indefinitely postpone the date for the upcoming elections (both presidential and political). The latest major event refers to the first days of December 2019, when Abbas' most recent official statement marked his intention to set the date of the next presidential election in the few following months.