Following the demise of Soviet-type regimes most countries of postcommunist Inner Asia either experienced initial political openings followed by reversion to authoritarianism or moved directly from one type of harsh authoritarianism to another. Mongolia is exceptional. The extent of political opening there during the 1990s far exceeded anything seen in any neighboring country and the gains of the early post-Soviet period were maintained instead of reversed. This paper investigates the causes of Mongolia’s relative success and argues that the absence of several factors that are often regarded as propitious for democratization has actually facilitated Mongolia’s democratization. The experience of postcommunist Inner Asia casts doubt on some arguments current in thinking on regime change.

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