Issoufou, an ethnic Hausa, was born in the town of Dandaji in Tahoua Department. An engineer by trade, he served as National Director of Mines from 1980 to 1985 before becoming Secretary-General of the Mining Company of Niger
Mahamadou Issoufou is a Nigerien politician who is President of the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS-Tarayya), a social democratic party.
Issoufou was Prime Minister of Niger from 1993 to 1994 and President of the National Assembly from 1995 to 1996, and he has stood as a candidate in each presidential election since 1993. During the Presidency of Mamadou Tandja (1999–2010), Issoufou was the main opposition leader.
In February 1993, the country's first multiparty legislative and presidential elections were held. In the parliamentary election, Issoufou's party, the PNDS, won 13 seats in the National Assembly,and Issoufou himself won a seat as a PNDS candidate in Tahoua constituency.
Together with other opposition parties, the PNDS then joined a coalition, the Alliance of the Forces of Change (AFC). This coalition held the majority of the newly elected seats in the National Assembly.Later in February 1993, Issoufou ran as the PNDS candidate in the presidential election. He placed third, winning 15.92% of the vote.The AFC then supported second-place finisher Mahamane Ousmane for president in the second round of the election, held on March 27. Ousmane won the election, defeating Tandja Mamadou, the candidate of the National Movement of the Development Society (MNSD); with the AFC holding a parliamentary majority, Issoufou became Prime Minister on 17 April 1993.
Maïnassara was killed in another military coup in April 1999, and new elections were held in late in the year. In the first round of the presidential election, held in October, Issoufou placed second, winning 22.79% of the vote. He was later defeated by Tandja Mamadou in the November run-off, capturing 40.11% of the vote compared to Tandja's 59.89%. He was backed in the second round by the unsuccessful first round candidates Hamid Algabid, Moumouni Adamou Djermakoye, and Ali Djibo, while Tandja received Ousmane's support. After the announcement of the provisional results showing Tandja's victory, Issoufou accepted them and congratulated Tandja.
In the November 1999 parliamentary election, Issoufou was again elected to the National Assembly as a PNDS candidate in Tahoua constituency.
In a repeat of the 1999 election, Issoufou placed second behind incumbent Tandja in the 2004 presidential election, winning 24.60% of the vote. He was defeated in the run-off, winning 34.47% of the vote to Tandja's 65.53%; however, this was still considered an impressive result for Issoufou, since the other candidates had backed Tandja in the second round. Issoufou, who targeted corruption in his campaign, accused Tandja of using state funds for his own campaign, along with other accusations of electoral misconduct, and said that the election was not as transparent as the 1999 election.
In the December 2004 parliamentary election, Issoufou was re-elected to the National Assembly as a PNDS candidate in Tahoua constituency.