The ‘LEADER community initiatives’ and the ‘LEADER approach’ have been commonly accepted as an innovative way for development of rural areas in the EU. It is widely assumed that promoting growth in rural areas can be achieved through partnerships between representatives of three classes of local actors: civil society, public administration and private/economic sector. While these partnerships certainly have the potential to improve coordination mechanisms that manage local resources, their existence is likely to have an impact on the distribution of political advantages and future economic rents of current incumbents. What follows, it is reasonable to assume that local political elites may either block or impede the adoption of this institutional innovation. This paper investigates these issues using the Pilot Programme LEADER+ experiences in Poland. The focus is on institutional aspects that are thought to affect the electoral process. Consistent with a large body of political economy literature, our results suggest that LEADER-type partnerships are more likely to occur in an environment where holding politicians to account is easier.