This paper analyzes the effectiveness, responsiveness and accountability of local mayors in governing local development in Armenia. The research conducted in eight rural communities shows that in order to be effective, elected local mayors are compelled to resort to informal strategies to attract development resources to their communities. As formal opportunities for supporting rural livelihoods are limited, informal governance helps enhance people’s well-being and social cohesion. It also reinforces a system of “clientelistic accountability”, which ensures a significant level of responsiveness of local mayors to local needs, but also contributes to the disempowerment of citizens and leaves them vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement.

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