Focusing on the vastly different outcomes of post-Soviet regime transitions, this study explores why some societies have become more democratic and some have not. Based on in-depth comparative analyses, the book assesses political developments in six of Russia's regions (Saratov, Nizhnii Novgorod, Volgograd, Ryazan', Ul'yanovsk, and Tver' oblasts) since 1988. The authors consider the influence of Soviet governance systems on the emergence of cleavages and new actors in the post-Soviet period. They also analyze the impact of institutional changes on regional regimes and the success or failure of formal institutions as a framework for political competitiveness. Placing their detailed field data within the larger comparative and theoretical context of political transitions, the authors are able to explain the mixed outcomes of post-communist regime change in Russia and other post-Soviet nations. With its innovative model of path-contingent democratization and its new typology of political regimes and regime transitions, this book will be essential reading for all scholars of democracy.