New democracies have di§erent economic and political performance than more established democracies: they rely more on clientelistic spending and exhibit more fraudulent elections. Despite most of these practices take place at the local level, there has been limited scholar attention to uncover the microeconomic mechanisms that give rise to these aggregate patterns. This paper examines, theoretically and empirically, the workings of the Örst democratic election from the local governments standpoint and evaluates which local electoral institutions facilitates the persistence of clientelistic patterns. My theoretical analysis highlights that appointed local o¢ cials face stronger incentives to ináuence voters than elected o¢ cials. In order to protect their jobs, they use local patronage networks to promote the electoral chances of the dictatorís party. However, if there is imperfect information about the political leanings of local o¢ cials and if the reformist party is expected to win by a large majority, this e§ect is reversed and appointed o¢ cials pretend to be supporters of the reformist party. I provide empirical support for the implications of the model with a unique data set containing information on the electoral results for the Örst post-Suharto election for 56,000 villages in Indonesia. Within districts, Suhartoís party was 5.5 percentage points more likely to win in villages with an appointed village head than in those with an elected village head. The results are robust to the inclusion of a wide set of controls and similar across econometric methods (OLS, probit, propensity score matching). However, this e§ect is reversed in districts in which the main reformist party won by a large margin, consistent with the hypothesis that appointed o¢ cials behaved opportunistically.