This article analyses the ways in which claims to local government authority are legitimated in post-conflict Nepal, where interim arrangements bridge a situation in which elected government have not been in place since 2002. On the basis of our analysis of local development planning processes, we show how contested local government authority is worked out through a series of compromises. Central to the functioning of these compromises is the process of consensus, which serves two important functions. The first is that consensus is used to legitimate the various compromises necessary for local government to function in a context where the rules and authority of local government are caught in a lengthy ‘transitional’ ad-interim arrangement. Consensus also serves as a counter-political strategy that helps create the conditions for civil co-existence, or what has been termed ‘rough and ready civility’. This civil co-existence is an important enabling condition for local politicians to reach the compromises necessary for day-to-day decisions to be taken. However, compromise also has its limits and it can potentially be compromising to participants.