This paper evaluates the effects of encouraging the selection of local politicians in India via community consensus, as opposed to a secret ballot election. Using village-level data on candidates, elected politicians, government budgets, and workfare employment, I show that incentives for consensus elections lead to politicians who are more educated but less likely to be drawn from historically marginalized castes and increase how regressively workfare employment is targeted. These results are supported by qualitative evidence that shows that consensus elections are prone to capture by the local elite, which may reduce the need for clientelistic transfers to the non-elite.

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