What impact have Eurasia’s 2003–2005 “colored revolutions” had on the state of democracy and autocracy in the region? The logic of patronal presidentialism, a set of institutions common to post-Soviet countries, suggests that the revolutions are at root succession struggles more than democratic breakthroughs generated by civic activists and foreign democratizing activity. This helps explain why Georgia is experiencing a new retreat from ideal-type democracy while only Ukraine, whose revolution weakened the patronal presidency, has sustained high political contestation after its revolution. This means that autocratic leaders clamping down on non-governmental organizations, free media, and their foreign supporters may have learned the wrong lessons, perhaps making their countries more susceptible to violent revolution than they were before.

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