What are some ways I can corrupt the government of a country's capital city in such a way as to give a small social group power but still maintaining the illusion of a democratic republic? It would preferable to do this in a way that wouldn't disturb the rest of the world economy too much.
Some more information about my world: No magic, technology comparable late 1800s- running water, steamboats, radio (yes I'm aware this is a bit later),telegraph and electrical lighting in developed areas.
Some more information about my city: It is in an equatorial region of the world. Its main exports are spices, coffee, tea, rice, stoneware and earthenware, and some fruits specific to this world. The indigenous people from the area were conquered about 300 years ago by foreigners, but they still make up most of the population. There are three branches of a monotheistic religion present in the city, one practiced by the descendants of the conquerors and two practiced by the descendants of the conquered. The city is on a peninsula that separates a smaller sea from an ocean. The area experiences some piracy, but the main trading partners of the country are on the other side of the ocean. The city is on a river, and the main occupations of its lower citizens are digging clay from the clay flats and working in the factories making the stoneware and earthenware. The voting system is gerrymandered so as to significantly disadvantage the working class. The upper class mainly make money through shipping companies, factories, real estate, and high-paying government jobs.