The purpose of this thesis is to answer the question what factors contribute to the differing levels of democratic success in the post-Soviet republics The thesis draws on political theory and historical approaches to examine all 15 of the post-Soviet republics as a group in order to identify common trends, and then investigates two particular case studiesRussia and Kyrgyzstanfor further insight. Using the Freedom House scores to measure levels of democratic development, the thesis focuses on two important factors that contribute to democratic success the balance of power among the elites at the moment of transition and the nature of the initial constitutional framework. The first theory posits that the power dynamics of leadership between the democrats and those supporting the ancien rgime are crucial in determining the level of democratic development. The second theory concentrates on the impact for democracy of the type of constitutional framework adoptedwhether parliamentary, presidential, or some mixture of the two. The thesis examines the merits of these two variables and concludes that an analysis combining them offers the most useful explanation of what contributes to the differing levels of democratic success.