Abstract: The role of the village headman and council of elders is very important in many societies. The focus of this article is to analyse the evolution and the role of the (informal) intermediary institutions and actors in the context of changing society’s patterns and political landscape transformations. This article focuses on Albania and Kosovo, where village self-governing mechanisms played a crucial role in avoiding (often deadly) social conflicts during the post-communism transition. The article relies on in-depth interviews with involved actors at the local level, using the framework of evolutionary governance theory. The study shows that the role of the council of elders and village headman has been strong and important in times of weak central and local governance, while it weakened in times of strong politicization and increasingly patronizing role of the central government, thus not allowing for a right balance between legitimate community representation and accountability toward upper levels of governance.
Keywords: Albania; communism; council of elders; informal institutions; Kosovo; self‐governing mechanism; village headman