The competitive grants schemes, a financing mechanism established for achieving social welfare as well as balanced and efficient territorial development, would have to be applied through a transparent and objective competition process. However, political influence of the ruling party and informal networks with central government decision-makers may influence access to competitive grants. This paper explores the extent to which the political affiliation and the personal informal connections/networks of the Municipalities and Communes leaders influence the allocation of competitive grants in Albania. The study is based on their perceptions and attitudes collected through the application of qualitative research instruments. We used a semi-structured survey that targeted local government leaders in Albania during the year 2013–14. Research shows that local government leaders are more likely to access grants from the central government if both belong to the same political party/coalition, follow personal informal connections/networks, and can use strong (political and/or bribing) lobbying with high-level decision makers.

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