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Small islands of democracy in an authoritarian sea : explaining Mongolian and Kyrgyz democratic development Jargalsaikhan, Mendee 2019

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 SMALL ISLANDS OF DEMOCRACY IN AN AUTHORITARIAN SEA:  EXPLAINING MONGOLIAN AND KYRGYZ DEMOCRATIC DEVELOPMENT  by Mendee Jargalsaikhan  M.A., The University of British Columbia, 2011 M.A., The Naval Postgraduate School, 2000 B.A., Defence University of Mongolia, 1994   A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF   DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies  (Political Science)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  April 2019   © Mendee Jargalsaikhan, 2019   ii	The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for acceptance, a thesis/dissertation entitled:  Small Islands of Democracy in an Authoritarian Sea: Explaining Mongolian and Kyrgyz Democratic Development  submitted by Mendee Jargalsaikhan  in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science   Examining Committee: Lisa Sundstrom  Supervisor Brian Job Supervisory Committee Member  Julian Dierkes Supervisory Committee Member Sara Shneiderman University Examiner   Maxwell A Cameron University Examiner  Additional Supervisory Committee Members:  Supervisory Committee Member  Supervisory Committee Member     iii	Abstract  My dissertation investigates the democratization of Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan, small states in the Sino-Russian sphere of influence. Taking Mongolia as a primary case, I ask why an electoral democracy has succeeded in an authoritarian neighbourhood where Western democracy promoters lack interests and leverage. Bridging the international relations and comparative politics literature, I develop a theoretical framework to examine how geopolitical interests of great powers and the presence or absence of a strong political party impact the democratization process in a small state.  I posit two explanations for Mongolia’s successful transition to and consolidation of electoral democracy. First, I contend that the absence of direct geopolitical competition of Western and neighbouring great powers made Mongolia’s democratic transition possible and Western democracy promotion credible. I explain how the absence of direct geopolitical competition fosters contestation in domestic politics whereas the presence of direct geopolitical competition among great powers reduces the likelihood of democratization. Second, I argue that the presence of a strong political party that is highly institutionalized and dominated by pro-reform and collective leadership prevents political violence and hijacking of state institutions by populist leaders during the transition stage. The survival of a former ruling party provides a model and anti-incumbent impetus for new parties and contributes to the development of a competitive party system in the consolidation stage.  To apply my framework to other cases, I examine the democratization process of Kyrgyzstan and find that the main causes of reversal were the re-emergence of direct geopolitical competition of great powers and the former ruling party dismantlement, which resulted in a weak party system. The study of Kyrgyzstan shows how overriding security interests undermined Western democracy promotion efforts, while the absence of a strong party explains the transfer of political power through violent protests rather than regular, competitive elections.  This framework applies to the democratization of small states, many of which have operated in authoritarian neighbourhoods. The majority of these states conducted political reforms in favourable international settings in the post-Cold War period, but some succeeded iv	whereas others failed. Geopolitical and political party dynamics could explain such divergent outcomes.   v	Lay Summary My dissertation examines the democratization process of Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan in the period from 1984 to 2010.  The key objective is to explain why an electoral democracy succeeded in Mongolia and why it failed in Kyrgyzstan.  The research explains the success of the Mongolian case in terms of its peaceful external environment, where all great powers have avoided competing for geostrategic advantage in Mongolia, and the continuing presence of a strong ruling party. In regards to the Kyrgyzstan case, the intense geopolitical competition among Russia, China, and the United States and the dismantlement of the former ruling party are responsible for the failure of its democracy. The dissertation also presents insightful discussions about Mongolian politics in the 1980s, which has been little examined, and interesting facts about US engagement with Mongolia.vi	Preface    This dissertation is original, unpublished, independent work by the author, Mendee Jargalsaikhan. The fieldwork reported in this dissertation was covered by UBC Ethics Certificate number H15-01124 approved by the UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board (BREB) on June 4, 2015 and extended on March 15, 2017.   The earlier version of Chapter 3, “The Mongolian Democratic Transition in 1984-1990,” was presented at the “The Quest for a Voice: Revisiting Asia’s Democratic Revolt” conference, UC Berkeley, on April 14, 2017.    vii	Table of Contents ABSTRACT ........................................................................................................................... iii LAY SUMMARY .................................................................................................................... v PREFACE .............................................................................................................................. vi TABLE OF CONTENTS ....................................................................................................... vii LIST OF TABLES ................................................................................................................... x LIST OF FIGURES ................................................................................................................ xi LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................................................................................. xii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .................................................................................................. xiv DEDICATION ..................................................................................................................... xvi CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................... 1 KEY ARGUMENTS .................................................................................................................. 5 IMPLICATIONS ....................................................................................................................... 7 CASE SELECTION .................................................................................................................. 9 PLAN OF THE DISSERTATION ................................................................................................. 12 CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK .......... 15 KEY CONCEPTS ................................................................................................................... 16 DEMOCRATIZATION THEORIES & GAPS .................................................................................. 19 The Structuralist Approach ........................................................................................... 19 Actor-focused Approach .............................................................................................. 22 External Dimensions ..................................................................................................... 24 Literature Review – Mongolia ........................................................................................ 27 Literature Review – Kyrgyzstan ..................................................................................... 30 Overarching Problems & Gaps ..................................................................................... 32 A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK .............................................................................................. 33 The Dynamics of Geopolitical Interests of Great Powers ............................................. 34 The Absence or Presence of a Strong Political Party and Party Systems .................... 38 ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS ............................................................................................... 42 METHODS ........................................................................................................................ 46 CHAPTER SUMMARY ............................................................................................................ 47 CHAPTER THREE: MONGOLIA – DEMOCRATIC TRANSITION, 1984 – 1990 ............... 48 FAVOURABLE EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT ................................................................................ 49 The Sino-Soviet Rapprochement & Mongolia’s Neutrality ............................................ 50 Soviet – American normalization & US – Mongolia Relations ....................................... 55 Gorbachev Policies & Mongolia’s Political Opening ..................................................... 62 DOMESTIC POLITICAL DYNAMICS .......................................................................................... 67 Batmunkh’s Reform & Fifth Plenum .............................................................................. 68 The First Hunger Strike & Resignation of the Politburo ................................................ 71 The Second Hunger Strike & Passage of the Multi-Party Election Law ........................ 76 The First Multi-Party Election ........................................................................................ 80 ANALYSIS ........................................................................................................................... 84 CHAPTER SUMMARY ............................................................................................................ 92 viii	CHAPTER FOUR: MONGOLIA – DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION, 1991 – 1999 .......... 93 THE GEOPOLITICAL BLESSING – A FAVOURABLE EXTERNAL SETTING ...................................... 95 China – Favouring Neutrality & Stability in the North .................................................... 95 Soviet Union/Russia – Retrenchment ........................................................................... 99 The United States: Right Person, Right Time ............................................................. 102 DOMESTIC POLITICAL DYNAMICS ........................................................................................ 110 The 1992 Constitution ................................................................................................ 111 Former Ruling Party – Winning Parliamentary, Losing Presidential Elections ............. 116 Opposition Parties – Winning Parliamentary, Losing Presidential Elections ............... 119 ANALYSIS ......................................................................................................................... 124 CHAPTER SUMMARY .......................................................................................................... 131 CHAPTER FIVE: MONGOLIA – DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION, 2000 – 2010 ......... 133 THE CHANGING GEOPOLITICAL CONTEXT – CONTINUED BLESSING ....................................... 135 Russia – Assertive, But Constrained ........................................................................... 136 USA – Third Neighbour, Democratic Outpost ............................................................ 141 China – A Benign Neighbour ...................................................................................... 145 DOMESTIC POLITICAL DYNAMICS ........................................................................................ 151 The Former Ruling Party – Winning Parliamentary and Presidential Elections ........... 151 The Grand Coalition and Power-Sharing .................................................................... 156 Losing Trust in Parties: Post-Election Riots in 2008 & Opposition President in 2009 161 ANALYSIS ......................................................................................................................... 170 CHAPTER SUMMARY .......................................................................................................... 177 CHAPTER SIX: STRUGGLING DEMOCRATIZATION, 1985 – 2010 ............................... 178 EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT .................................................................................................. 179 The Collapse of the Soviet Union & Unwanted Independence ................................... 181 US Interests – A Democratic Model for Central Asia .................................................. 184 China – Concerns for Three Evils ................................................................................ 187 THE EVENTS OF 9/11 & EMERGENCE OF GEOPOLITICAL COMPETITION .................................. 189 American Interests (only) in Manas Air Base ............................................................... 189 Russian Interests of Security and Stability .................................................................. 192 China – Concerns for Long Term Impacts .................................................................. 194 INTERNAL DYNAMICS OF KYRGYZ POLITICS ......................................................................... 197 President Askar Akayev, 1990 - 2005 ......................................................................... 198 President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, 2005 – 2010 .............................................................. 209 ANALYSIS ......................................................................................................................... 218 CHAPTER SUMMARY .......................................................................................................... 226 CHAPTER SEVEN: CONCLUSION ................................................................................... 228 ARGUMENT & APPROACH .................................................................................................. 229 FINDINGS & IMPLICATIONS ................................................................................................. 230 POTENTIAL GENERALIZATIONS ............................................................................................ 238 EPILOGUE ......................................................................................................................... 244 BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................................................................................................... 247 APPENDIX A: LIST OF INTERVIEWEES AND RESEARCH SITES IN MONGOLIA AND KYRGYZ REPUBLIC ........................................................................................................ 282 APPENDIX B: BTI DEMOCRACY STATUS AND KEY INDICATORS OF MONGOLIA AND KYRGYZ REPUBLIC ................................................................................................ 286 ix	APPENDIX C: TI CORRUPTION INDEX FOR MONGOLIA AND KYRGYZ REPUBLIC ............................................................................................................................................ 287 APPENDIX D: COMPARATIVE FREEDOM HOUSE SCORES OF MONGOLIA AND KYRGYZ REPUBLIC (1990 – 2010) ................................................................................... 288    x	List of Tables Table 1. Freedom House Rating (2011) ................................................................................... 2 Table 2. Some Comparative Indicators .................................................................................. 11 Table 3. Interests of Great Powers .......................................................................................... 36 Table 4. Interests of Great Powers in Mongolia ..................................................................... 37 Table 5. List of Demonstrations in 1989 - 1990 ..................................................................... 74 Table 6. List of Registered Political Parties by June 1990 ..................................................... 80 Table 7. Result of the People's Great Hural Election ............................................................. 83 Table 8. Allocation of Key Positions ...................................................................................... 83 Table 9. The US Assistance to Mongolia from 1990 to 2000 .............................................. 108 Table 10. The US Assistance to Mongolia from 2001 to 2010 ............................................ 143 Table 11. List of Campaign Promises .................................................................................. 165 Table 12. Result of the 2010 Parliamentary Election ........................................................... 218 Table 13. Interests of Great Powers in Kyrgyzstan in the 1990s .......................................... 219 Table 14. Interests of Great Powers in Kyrgyzstan after 2000 ............................................. 221    xi	List of Figures Figure 1. Map of Asia ............................................................................................................. 14 Figure 2. The US Embassy in 1989 ........................................................................................ 61 Figure 3. Khovd Pedagogical University and Ard Ayush Square .......................................... 72 Figure 4. GDP per capita growth (annual %) ....................................................................... 122 Figure 5. Inflation (annual %) .............................................................................................. 122 Figure 6. Mongolia's Trade with China and Russia (million USD) ..................................... 147    xii	List of Abbreviations  ADB   Asian Development Bank AID  Agency for International Development AU  African Union CADI  Central Agency on Development and Investment CIA  Central Intelligence Agency CIS   Commonwealth of Independent States CMEA  Council for Mutual Economic Assistance  CPSU  Communist Party of the Soviet Union CSCE  Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe CSTO  Collective Security Treaty Organization CT   Computed Tomography CWP  Civil Will Party DMK  Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan DOD   Department of Defence  DSM  Democratic Socialist Movement DU  Democratic Union EBRD  European Bank for Reconstruction and Development EEU  Eurasian Economic Union EMO  Election Monitoring Mission EU  European Union FBI  Federal Bureau of Investigation  FDI  Foreign Direct Investment FY  Fiscal Year G7  Group of Seven GUAM  Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova ICRC  International Committee of the Red Cross IDS   Institute for Defence Studies IMF   International Monetary Fund  IRI   International Republican Institute KAS  Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung KGB  Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti MDP  Mongolian Democratic Party MDU  Mongolian Democratic Union MFLP  Mongolian Free Labor Party MFN  Most Favoured Nation  MIA  Manas International Airport MISS  Mongolian Institute for Strategic Studies  MOD  Ministry of Defence  MOFA  Ministry of Foreign Affairs MNPP  Mongolian National Progressive Party MPR  Mongolian People’s Republic MPRP   Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party MRP   Mongolian Renaissance Party MSDP  Mongolian Social Democratic Party MSU  Mongolian Student Union MUP  Mongolian United Party  MUTP  Mongolian United Traditional Party NAM  Non-Aligned Movement xiii	NATO  North Atlantic Treaty Organization NGO  Non Governmental Organization NPM  New Progressive Movement NSC  National Security Council  OAS   Organization of American States OECD  Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development OEF  Operation Enduring Freedom OSCE  Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe PfP  Partnership for Peace  PGH  People’s Great Hural Politburo Political Bureau PRC  People’s Republic of China SCO  Shanghai Cooperation Organization SGH  State Great Hural  TAF  The Asia Foundation  UN   United Nations UNDP  United Nations Development Programme US   United States USA   United States of America USAID  United States Agency for International Development USSR  Union of Soviet Socialist Republics WB  World Bank WTO   World Trade Organization    xiv	Acknowledgements  This has been a long journey and I could not imagine arriving at this moment without the help of many wonderful people.    My supervisor, Lisa Sundstrom, has kept me on track since my MA in 2011, tirelessly and eagerly discussing all my ideas and providing immediate feedback and excellent support along this journey.  Thank you for reviewing and commenting on multiple drafts of research designs and the dissertation.   I was so fortunate to have Julian Dierkes and Brian Job as my committee members.  Julian spoiled me by providing the coziest study place and a 27” Apple iMac to write the dissertation.  In our so-called ‘Mongolia study kitchen’ in the Choi building and during our trips in Mongolia, Julian raised challenging questions highly relevant to my dissertation and raised my interests in domestic politics.  Brian has been my key mentor on international security matters and was always there whenever I lost orientation in the immense theoretical world of International Relations.   Besides my committee, I am grateful to Paul Evans, Arjun Chowdhury, Erin Williams, Marie-Luise Ermisch, Guo Li, Pascale Massot, Yoel Kornreich and Brandon Davis for taking the time to ask about my dissertation and ensuring that I stayed on course. I truly enjoyed TA-ing for Arjun for so many times and benefitted from his most practical advice for finishing my dissertation.   I want to thank the Political Science Department for their generosity in scholarships, training, and administrative support for equipping me with analytical tools and feedback.  Here, I would like to especially thank Graduate Program Assistant, Josephine Calazan, for the outstanding professional support and friendship.  All these years, the Institute of Asian Research has provided me with the coziest place to research. At the Institute of Asian Research, Karen Jew and Bulgan Batdorj extended all possible support and friendship.      I am so glad that I have met and worked with Ambassador Bold Ravdan, Professors Thomas Bruneau (Naval Postgraduate School), Thomas Peterman (Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies), David Last (Royal Military College of Canada) and an “off-campus” supervisor, the late Alan Wachman (The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University) - all who encouraged me to pursue my graduate degrees at UBC.    My fieldwork would have not been complete without a three-month fellowship and a graduate assistantship at the Canadian International Resources Development Institute.  I have learned immensely and built a professional network concerning natural resources and its impacts on the politics.  I am so grateful for Marie-Luise Ermisch and Cecilia Gruber for providing me with such wonderful research and internship opportunities.     Thank you to all my Mongolian colleagues here in Vancouver and in Mongolia for their friendship and support in my research.    xv	I say proudly to my mom that I am almost done and thank you for believing in your son who is now completing his seems-never-ending PhD in Canada.   Finally, I am very grateful for my family - Tumee, Tuya, and Chimgee - for providing me endless sources of encouragement and love.     xvi	Dedication  To my dad, who encouraged me studying, and grandparents, who inspired my curiosity      1	Chapter One: Introduction    In June 2011, the US Senate issued two notable statements concerning Mongolia and the Kyrgyz Republic. The first was a Senate Resolution, issued in recognition of the visit of Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia to the United States, acknowledging Mongolia’s sustained commitment to “lasting democratic and free market reforms” and the substantial, longstanding support of the US government to that end since 1991. In essence, the resolution described Mongolia as a success story of Western democracy promotion efforts.1 The second was a congressional statement by Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, who also authored the aforementioned resolution on Mongolia. Expressing Western faith in Kyrgyzstan’s Interim President Roza Otunbayeva’s orchestration of the transition to democratic rule after the removal of previous authoritarian presidents, Senator Kerry wished “the people of Kyrgyzstan [would] seize this moment and advance the cause of democracy for the benefit of their country, the region, and the world.”2   In the early 1990s, despite a lack of vested security and economic interests, the US government responded positively to requests by Mongolian and Kyrgyz leaders to support their dual-track political and economic reforms. At that time, both states made distinct moves towards political reform. Mongolian leaders facilitated democratization and reached out to Western powers when all other non-European communist states repressed the opposition and became resilient single-party states such as Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam. Kyrgyz leaders, unlike their counterparts in other Central Asian republics, initiated political reforms and also sought Western assistance. This prompted the US administration to foresee Mongolia as a potential democratic model for other Asian communist states and Kyrgyzstan for other Central Asian republics. This forecasting was based on US assumptions about reformist leaders, educated populations, and small economies of agriculture and mining in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan alike.  After two decades, results were strikingly different even as these countries had received similar attention and assistance from Western powers. Political power in Mongolia has been                                                 1 US Senate Resolution 208, June 15, 2011 (enacted). Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/sres208. 2 The US Congressional Record, Senate, June 28, 2011. Retrieved from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2011-06-28/pdf/CREC-2011-06-28-pt1-PgS4149.pdf.  3 Mongolia also ranks similarly in the Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index (BTI) 2010 and Polity IV in comparison to Asia Pacific and Central and Eastern European countries, whereas Kyrgyzstan maintains a similar ranking in comparison to other former Soviet republics, especially the Central Asian ones.   4 Process tracing is a within-case analysis method to investigate and evaluate causal processes. See George & Bennett, 2005; Checkel, 2006; Bennett & Elman, 2006; and Tansey, 2007.  2 The US Congressional Record, Senate, June 28, 2011. Retrieved from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2011-06-28/pdf/CREC-2011-06-28-pt1-PgS4149.pdf.   2	transferred peacefully between two major political parties through six regular parliamentary and presidential elections, while power in Kyrgyzstan has been transferred between three presidents through violent protests in 2005 and 2010. Kyrgyzstan’s first president, Askar Akayev, sought refuge from Russian President Vladimir Putin, while his successor, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, secured similar protection from the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko following violent protests. Former presidents, family members, and close allies remain on the long-overdue extradition requests of the Kyrgyz government, but Presidents Putin and Lukashenko continue to deny these requests.    According to a 2011 Freedom House report, Mongolia’s rating of civil liberties and political rights was closer to that of  Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, than the rest of the Asia-Pacific countries, while matching with ratings of Bulgaria, Latvia, and Romania in the “Free” category. In contrast, Kyrgyzstan’s rating switches back and forth between the “Partially Free” and “Not Free” categories; however, Kyrgyzstan still ranks higher than all other Central Asian republics (see Table 1).  Table 1. Freedom House Rating (2011)3 Countries  Category Freedom Rating Civil Liberties Political Rights Mongolia  Free 2.0 2 2 Japan, Taiwan, South Korea Free  1.5 2 1 Poland, Czech, Hungary, Slovakia, Estonia, Lithuania Free 1.0 1 1 Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia Free 2.0 2 2 Kyrgyzstan  Partly Free 5.0 5 5 Moldova, Ukraine Partly Free 3.0 3 3 Georgia Partly Free 3.5 3 4 Armenia Partly Free 5.0 4 6 Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Russia Not Free  5.5 5 6 Belarus Not Free  6.5 6 7 Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan  Not Free  7.0 7 7  Source: Freedom House Report, June 18, 2019. Retrieved from www.freedomhouse.org.                                                  3 Mongolia also ranks similarly in the Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index (BTI) 2010 and Polity IV in comparison to Asia Pacific and Central and Eastern European countries, whereas Kyrgyzstan maintains a similar ranking in comparison to other former Soviet republics, especially the Central Asian ones.    3	Notes: Freedom House assesses the conditions for civil liberties, political rights, and overall freedom and then assigns grades of 1-7; highest score indicates the lowest performances of democracy. This table aims to compare Mongolia’s rating of civil liberties and political rights to that of East Asian democracies and Central and Eastern European states as well as Kyrgyzstan’s rating to that of former Soviet republics.    Current studies demonstrate that states which are geographically proximate to Western democracies (Kopstein & Reilly, 2000) and have high linkages and leverage (Levitsky & Way, 2010), membership arrangements in regional organizations (Whitehead, 2001), strong civil societies (Perez-Diaz & Victor, 1993; Howard, 2000; Putnam, 2000) and/or economic development (Lipset, 1959; Przeworski, 1997; Boix & Stokes, 2003), are more likely to succeed in democratizing than states in authoritarian neighbourhoods (Burnell & Schlumberger, 2010; Plattner, 2015; Bader, 2015) or states with readily exploitable natural resources like oil and gas (Madhavy, 1970; Karl, 1997; Ross, 2001). Although these theories provide reasonable explanations for successes and failures in Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics, and in the Asia-Pacific region, they offer few insights into cases like Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan. Both are: extremely dependent on their neighbouring authoritarian great powers, China and Russia; isolated from developed democracies; non-aspirants in regards to membership in European Union (EU) or North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); economically poor; and have weak, vulnerable civil societies. But they raise important questions, such as: Why did the leaders of these countries make similar commitments to democracy? What explains their divergent trajectories of democratic consolidation versus authoritarian reversal? What can be learned from the successes and failures of their democratization processes? Why and when does Western democracy promotion support or hinder the democratization process? And, how do external and domestic factors interact to support or challenge democratization?   To answer these questions, I develop a theoretical framework from the international relations and political party literatures to explain how the dynamics of geopolitical interests of great powers and absence/presence of a strong party affect the democratic transition and consolidation process. I posit two explanatory factors. First, I contend that the absence of direct geopolitical competition between Western and neighbouring great powers is a necessary but not sufficient factor in the democratization of a small state. The absence of direct geopolitical competition fosters contestation in domestic politics. The presence of geopolitical competition increases external pressure and involvement in the domestic politics of a small state; this provides justification for authoritarian leaders to suppress the opposition or, if the transition already happened, to reverse the democratization process. Therefore, the presence or emergence of  4	Western and neighbouring great powers’ geostrategic interests undermines the credibility of democracy promotion efforts in small states.   Second, I argue that the presence of a strong political party that is dominated by pro-reform and collective leadership is a necessary but not sufficient factor in the democratization of a small state. During transition, the presence of a strong ruling party, if highly institutionalized and led by moderate leaders, prevents political violence and hijacking of state institutions by populist leaders. The survival of the ruling party, if party leaders commit to principles of electoral democracy, provides a model and anti-incumbent impetus for new parties and contributes to the development of a competitive party system. A highly institutionalized political party provides an organizational platform to internalize political reform and, more importantly, facilitates leadership succession. The absence of a strong, socially rooted political party increases the uncertainty for all political actors and provides opportunities for populist leaders to bolster their positions by hijacking the state institutions and building a personalistic party.   It is important to acknowledge that I am not proposing a general theory of democratization in small states, and recognize that democratization may or may not occur due to a variety of other reasons. The two factors I focus on – the dynamics of geopolitical interests of great powers and the absence/presence of a strong political party – have causal importance, but they do not explain democratization entirely. However, transition does not occur in the presence of direct geopolitical competition of great powers, and electoral democracy does not get consolidated in the absence of strong political parties. Both factors are necessary but not sufficient conditions for democratization. I demonstrate the utility of my explanation through a comparative study of Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan between 1984 and 2010. Through process tracing, I investigate how the dynamics of the overall geopolitical setting impact the domestic politics of small, peripheral states and how the presence/absence of a strong political party affects democratic transition and consolidation.4 Also, I will investigate the interplay between external and internal factors only to a limited extent since it requires a thorough, comprehensive process-tracing of both factors over a long timeframe.   Based on a qualitative analysis of expert interviews, archival materials, and secondary data, I examine the dynamics of the geopolitical interests of great powers, namely, China, Russia, and                                                 4 Process tracing is a within-case analysis method to investigate and evaluate causal processes. See George & Bennett, 2005; Checkel, 2006; Bennett & Elman, 2006; and Tansey, 2007.   5	the United States, and the development of political parties and party systems in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan. I undertook over 50 interviews with Mongolian academics, politicians, bureaucrats, and civil society activists and interviews with a few Kyrgyz experts during five months of fieldwork in Mongolia and a brief study trip to the Kyrgyz Republic in 2015-16. (See Appendix B for the list of interviewees in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan.)  Key Arguments  In the era of democracy, the fate of democratic transition and consolidation for small states depends on two critical factors: the dynamics of geopolitical interests of great powers and the absence/presence of a strong, institutionalized political party. One is external and necessary, but not sufficient, for the transition stage; the other is internal and necessary, but not sufficient, for the consolidation of the electoral democracy.  Absence/Presence of Direct Geopolitical Competition  The Transition Stage – The transition to democracy becomes possible only in the absence of direct geopolitical competition of great powers. The emergence or presence of competitive geopolitical interests causes great powers to intervene in the domestic politics of a small state in order to secure their national (self-serving) interests. This intervention provides opportunities for ruling elites or the regime of a small state to bargain with great powers and acquire international political recognition, economic assistance, and security guarantees for the regime. The geostrategic interests of great powers, in particular, provide a justification for ruling elites to take authoritarian measures in connection with any external and internal security threats. Moreover, the emergence and presence of direct geopolitical competition among great powers increases their control and influence over ruling elites or the regime of a small state using their political, economic, and military leverage; in particular, this reduces the will and credibility of Western democracy promotion efforts. Therefore, in the presence of direct geopolitical competition of great powers, the likelihood of democratic transition and consolidation is slim.   The Consolidation Stage – The dynamics of the geopolitical interests of great powers is as important for the democratic consolidation process as it is for the transition process. In the consolidation stage, if a country already made a transition to democracy, the presence of direct geopolitical competition of great powers mostly produces negative effects because geopolitical dynamics provide the bargaining opportunities for ruling elites and justifications for taking authoritarian measures, and reduces the credibility of Western powers’ normative persuasion or pressures for democratization. But, in this stage, the presence of conflicting geopolitical interests  6	of great powers also plays a neutral or positive role. It has neutral effects when all great powers refrain from taking any measures to endorse or strengthen the existing regimes or use political, economic, and military leverage to cause domestic instability. The increased geopolitical interest of great powers also plays a positive role by increasing the international visibility of domestic politics, imposing conditionality (e.g., economic, political, or membership), and supporting opposition leaders and political organizations. Any attempts by great powers to endorse or interfere in the domestic politics have the unintended consequence of enhancing the opposition and triggering anti-colonial sentiment. Therefore, unlike the transition stage, the geopolitical competition of great powers plays multiple roles in the consolidation process.  Absence/Presence of a Strong Political Party  The Transition Stage – The peaceful transition to democracy also depends on the presence of a strong political party. The defining characteristics of such a party include that is (1) dominated by reform-minded political leaders, has (2) clear, institutionalized collective decision-making procedures, and (3) a nation-wide infrastructure for reaching out to, representing, and mobilizing its constituency. Such a party also has strongly observed rules; as a result, it provides political stability. First, the institutionalized collective decision-making process provides a stable platform for internalizing the reform agenda. In other words, it has the ability to adapt to new circumstances. The more supporters endorse reform, the more likely that the reform becomes inevitable and sustainable. Second, a strong political party with its bureaucracy and popular support facilitates leadership succession. The clearer and more stable the leadership succession procedure is, the less wary ruling leaders are to transfer political power. The party has the capacity to enforce rules and manage conflicts, thus reducing the uncertainty for concerned leaders. Third, the strong political party prevents takeovers by populist leaders or special interest groups. Because the political party has its own rules for human resources, including training, education, and career advancement, the strong political party facilitates leadership rotation. Therefore, a strong political party – if it is dominated by reformist leaders and has internalized the inevitability of political reform – is instrumental for the peaceful transition to democracy. The transition process becomes more sustainable and socially rooted. Otherwise, an externally imposed or pro-liberal individual-led process will lack the support of a socially rooted, nation-wide, bureaucratized political institution – the political party.   The Consolidation Stage – The consolidation of electoral democracy will not be sustained without a strong party system, which is the most difficult endeavor for emerging democracies  7	unless all new parties receive similar packages of financial support to institutionalize their bureaucracy and outreach and representation capacities. The survival of the ruling party plays a critical role in this effort. First, the strong political party, which has collective decision-making procedures, supports a similar constitutional arrangement for collective governance in order to constrain populist leadership takeovers. Second, the presence of a strong political party provides a model and anti-incumbent motives for all other emerging political parties. This requires new opposition parties to form an electoral coalition to compete in the election. Third, the survival of the ruling party also makes it easy for Western democracy promotion efforts to assist the opposition parties in competing for elections. Therefore, the presence of a strong party, if it commits to the principles of electoral democracy, is a necessary but not sufficient factor in the institutionalization of the party system, in particular, and electoral democracy, in general. In the absence of a strong political party, the likelihood of electoral democracy, party system development, and emergence of nation-wide, bureaucratized parties is low.   In a nutshell, the absence of direct geopolitical competition and presence of a strong political party are both necessary but not sufficient conditions for the democratization of small states. In other words, these factors are located beyond the interests and area of responsibilities of Western powers and regional organizations that uphold liberal democracy as a core value.  Implications  My dissertation has theoretical and empirical (policy) implications for the study of democratization processes.   First, my emphasis on geopolitical interests explains why and how the dynamics of an overarching geopolitical environment affect the domestic politics of a small, peripheral state. Based on the comparative study of Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan at different periods, I show how the geopolitical dynamics affect the domestic politics of small states – the absence of direct geopolitical competition permits democratization, while the presence of it hinders democratization. In the 1990s, the absence of direct geopolitical competition of great powers created favourable conditions for democratization and increased the credibility and pressure of Western democracy-promotion efforts. But, in the following decade, the geopolitical setting changed in different ways for Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan: It has remained favourable for Mongolia’s democratization, but not for Kyrgyzstan’s. The conflicting security interests of great powers created opportunities for populist leaders to bargain with great powers and to justify their authoritarian acts.   8	 Second, my theory of a strong party explains how the survival (adaptation) of a relatively modern political institution – a political party that is dominated by reformist leaders and is highly-institutionalized – plays a crucial role in the transition to and consolidation of an electoral democracy. The survival of the Mongolian ruling party as a whole facilitated the transition process by providing institutional stability and preventing takeovers by populist leaders or interest groups. It also contributed to the consolidation process by serving as an anti-incumbent motive for compliance with the ‘rules of the game’ of an electoral democracy. The Kyrgyz case demonstrates that the dismantlement of the communist party opened opportunities for hijacking state institutions by populist leaders, the re-emergence of traditional and informal networks, and the emergence of personalized political organizations. The survival of the ruling party was a key element in Mongolia’s peaceful transfer of power through elections, and the absence of a strong party explains Kyrgyzstan’s violent political power transfers.     Third, my study also contributes to the literature on democracy-promotion efforts. Political reform was initiated by pro-liberal leaders in the Kyrgyzstan case and was internalized through ruling party organizations in the Mongolian case. In Mongolia, ruling party leaders opened and encouraged a critical reform discourse, party members and intellectuals engaged in critical appraisals, and party-affiliated public organizations and members/supporters were involved in the political reform process. This political reform, which is backed up by a political institution and operationalized through the party structure, has a broader base and support from the public than the personalized political reform of Kyrgyzstan. The institutionalized reform via the political party has more sustainability than personalized reform, which is attached to a populist leader. Also, Western democracy promotion has a greater impact when it supports an opposition political organization (i.e., an opposition political party) than when supporting pro-liberal politicians (individuals) and/or diverse civil-society organizations. Unlike the assistance to civil society organizations, the support for opposition parties contributes to the establishment of a competitive party system, which is a key element for electoral democracy. The Mongolian case demonstrates the effectiveness of party-assistance projects more visibly and more quickly in the short term, while the Kyrgyz case shows that assistance to civil society organizations had little impact on electoral democracy in the short term as such assistance requires a long-term commitment to be effective.   Fourth, my dissertation offers a three-level analytical framework to examine the dynamics of geopolitical interests of great powers; the degree of political party institutionalization; and, to a certain extent, the actions of key political leaders of great powers and small states. Building on  9	existing theories, I identify the conditions necessary for democratization in authoritarian neighbourhoods. Unlike most studies that theorize domestic factors, my analytical framework examines the interactions of key external and internal factors and how they affect the democratization process.  Case Selection  There are several important rationales behind my selection of Mongolia as a primary case and Kyrgyzstan as a shadow case. In particular, the study of these two cases makes interesting theoretical contributions to explaining the democratization process, as each presents a different outcome under quite similar structural conditions: political power transfers by peaceful elections in Mongolia versus violent protests in Kyrgyzstan.5   First, Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan share a similar geographic, demographic, and cultural heritage as states that are located between two large, populous, and nuclear great powers, China and Russia. Inheriting Inner Asian nomadic and Buddhist heritage and culture, Mongolia has maintained its statehood between China and Russia with its population of three million and its small economy, which is based mostly on mining and agriculture. Kyrgyzstan, part of the former Soviet Union, has a population of five million and a small economy based on natural resources and agriculture, and it maintains Central Asian nomadic and moderate Islamic heritage. Important differences exist between Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan in terms of the ethnic composition and number of neighbours.  In	spite	of	its	well-integrated	Muslim	minority	(five	percent),	Mongolia	is	ethnically	homogenous,	whereas	Kyrgyzstan	has	a	multi-ethnic	society	with	substantial	Uzbek	and	Slavic	ethnic	minorities.	The	Kyrgyz	ethnic	group	has	constituted	about	52	percent	of	the	total	population	in	1989,	versus	over	70	percent	2013	(Schuler,	2007;	Elebayeva	eds.,	2000,	p.	344).	The	other	important	difference	is	that		Kyrgyzstan	borders	China	while	sharing	borders	with	Kazakhstan,	Tajikistan,	and	Uzbekistan,	but	not	with	Russia.	Mongolia	borders	only	China	and	Russia.  Second, Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan both deviate from two different sets of countries to which they belong – Asian communist states and former Soviet Central Asian republics, respectively. Mongolia’s democratization was triggered by changes in Soviet foreign policy, but Mongolia reacted differently than did other Asian communist states at the time. Mongolia responded in a similar manner to the European communist states (Fritz, 2002; Dierkes, 2012, p. 4). The democratization process in Kyrgyzstan, a part of the Soviet Union, was triggered by changing                                                 5 The case selection is based on John Stuart Mill’s method of difference. In accordance with the method of difference, two cases share many similarities, but present different outcomes (JS Mill, 1884; King, Keohane & Verba, 1994).   10	Soviet domestic policies and occurred in the same timeframe as other Central Asian Soviet republics, although it reacted differently from those other republics. Tajikistan was caught up in a civil war (1992-1996) and remained under the control of its Kremlin-backed regime. Leaders of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan institutionalized tight control over state institutions and society while relying on rents from natural resources. Only Kyrgyz leaders relaxed the political atmosphere by permitting civil liberties and providing space for civil society organizations (Pride, 1994). This presents a unique opportunity to examine similarities and differences in how small states reacted to the changes in their respective larger systems – Mongolia to the broader communist bloc collapse and Kyrgyzstan to the collapse of the Soviet Union.   Third, a number of variables that usually complicate our study of the democratization process are absent in both cases. Because of their geographical isolation from Western democracies and regional organizations, the impacts of regional organizations such as the EU, NATO, and the Organization of American States (OAS) are absent. Neither state had ethnic diaspora links with any Western democracies in the 1980s and 1990s. Explanations based on the resource curse, particularly ones related to the presence of oil, gas, or other high-market demand, readily exploitable resources, are not relevant to these two cases since neither country possesses large deposits of these resources. Both countries are still resource-dependent, but their key resources – copper, coal, uranium – require massive investment for building mines and relevant infrastructure as well as depend on specific market demands. Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan did not face any external military threats or secessionist groups, thus reducing the external and internal threat variables. Finally, with their communist pasts, religious factors had a minimum impact on domestic political developments, especially as both states maintained traditional secular state institutions. The absence of these factors enables us to isolate key factors in the democratization process.  Fourth, in a larger context, Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan are potential representatives of many other small states in Asia-Pacific, Eurasia, and Africa – all located away from democratic neighbourhoods , but experienced similar structural factors during the third and fourth waves of democratization.6 Most of these small states are affected by the changing dynamics of the geopolitical interests of great powers and have differing degrees of institutionalization of their                                                 6 The Mongolian and Kyrgyz cases have often been excluded from studies of comparative politics, just as many other small states in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific have also been excluded. But the study of these small states, as argued by Katzenstein and Veenendahl, is theoretically important (Katzenstein, 1985, 2003; Veenendaal & Corbett, 2015).   11	political parties and party systems. The analytical framework based on a comparative analysis of Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan could be extended, for example, to the democratization processes in East Asia (e.g., South Korea and Taiwan), the Caucasus (e.g., Armenia, the Baltic states, and Moldova), Africa (e.g., Botswana and Tanzania), Pacific Island states, and/or to the selective Arab Spring cases (e.g., Tunisia). Table 2. Some Comparative Indicators  Mongolia (Primary Case) Kyrgyzstan (Shadow Case)  Period of Democratization 1989  Communist bloc  1991 Former Soviet republics  Democratic Neighbour (land) None None  Colonial Legacy  A satellite state of the Soviet Union A Soviet republic Independence  1921 1991 Geopolitical Importance (US) None  Yes, from 2001                 (% of GDP in 1990) Economy*  Mining – 42% Agriculture – 13% Services – 45% Mining – 35% Agriculture – 34% Services – 31% GDP  1,670 USD in 1989 575 USD in 1991 Population*  2.18 million in 1990 4.39 million in 1990 Ethnic Composition Mongol – 95% Kazakh (Muslim) – 4% Others – 1% Kyrgyz – 72.6% Uzbek – 14.4% Russian – 6.4% Dungan (Chinese) – 1% Others – 5.5%  Literacy  97.4 98.7 Religion Secular State  Buddhism (53%-60%)  Islam (4%) Atheist (40%)  Secular State Islam (80%) Orthodoxy (17%)  Source:  *The Country Profile (Mongolia) of the World Bank (1990). Retrieved from https://data.worldbank.org/country/mongolia; The Country Profile (Kyrgyzstan) of the World Bank (1990). Retrieved from https://data.worldbank.org/country/kyrgyz-republic.    12	Plan of the Dissertation   My dissertation contains seven chapters. Following this Introduction, Chapter 2 reviews three major approaches – the structuralist, actor-focused, and external dimensions – of democratization theories and introduces my analytical framework of the dynamics of the geopolitical interests of great powers and absence/presence of a strong political party. The chapter also discusses a few notable alternative approaches which are used to explain democratic development in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan, and discusses the methods for the dissertation.   Applying this analytical framework, Chapter 3 investigates Mongolia’s democratic transition between 1984 and 1990 and argues that the absence of direct geopolitical competition of great powers and presence of a strong ruling (communist) party that was dominated by reformist leaders, resulted in a peaceful transition to democracy. The chapter examines the impact of Sino-Soviet rapprochement, the end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s reformist policies on Mongolian politics, while process tracing the internal dynamics of the democratic transition, which ended with the first multi-party election, marking the end of authoritarian period.   Chapter 4 examines Mongolia’s democratic consolidation from 1991 to 1999 and contends that electoral democracy has succeeded in Mongolia because of the absence of direct geopolitical competition among great powers. During this period, China was satisfied with Mongolia’s geopolitical neutrality, Russia was too busy with its own domestic economic and security challenges, and the United States was only interested in promoting Mongolia’s democratic consolidation. This created a favourable external security environment for Mongolian domestic politics, in which a democratic constitution was passed in 1992, and political power was transferred to opposition parties through peaceful elections.   Chapter 5 investigates the democratic consolidation from 2000 to 2010, a period – which witnessed changes in geopolitical interests of the great powers. The United States shifted its attention and resources to the fight against terrorist organizations and launched large-scale military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. China and Russia began shifting their attention to small states in their peripheries, especially in Central Asia, by institutionalizing new regional organizations and reacting against US involvement in the region. However, all great powers avoided direct geopolitical competition in Mongolia, thus providing another favourable decade for domestic politics. With the survival of Mongolia’s former ruling party, electoral democracy was firmly  13	consolidated in its domestic politics, in which two major parties transferred political powers only through regular elections.   Chapter 6 brings the comparative insights of the Kyrgyz democratization process, from 1986 to 2010, and argues that Kyrgyz democracy failed due to the absence of a strong political party and the re-emergence of geostrategic interests of great powers following the start of Western military operations in Afghanistan. The chapter examines the geopolitical dynamics surrounding Kyrgyzstan in two separate periods: in the 1990s and in the post-9/11 period. In doing so, it discusses why and how the country’s presidents – Akayev from 1990 to 2005, and Bakiyev from 2005 to 2010 – ascend to power, abuse power, and are removed from political powers by violent protests.    Finally, Chapter 7 introduces the findings of the comparative analysis of the Mongolian and Kyrgyz democratization processes and contends that there is potential application of the analytical framework to other cases to demonstrate the generalizability of my theories. Also, the chapter identifies gaps and lessons learned from the dissertation project.      14	Figure 1. Map of Asia   Source: Library of the University of Texas, July 11, 2018. Retrieved from www.lib.utexas.edu/maps.       15	Chapter Two: Literature Review and Theoretical Framework    At a press conference a day after Mongolia’s 5th presidential election on 24 May 2009, the MPRP, a successor communist party, and its candidate Enkhbayar Nambar, the incumbent President, congratulated opposition candidate Elbegdorj Tsakhia and accepted the results of the most competitive election in Mongolia’s history. The Democratic Party candidate Elbegdorj won with 51 percent of the votes versus 47 percent of the votes for Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) candidate Enkhbayar.7 Elbegdorj was one of the opposition leaders, who successfully staged the hunger strike against the communist party in March 1990 and this election marked another power transition between presidents through a regular democratic election. International observers univocally regarded the election as free and fair and congratulatory remarks on Mongolia’s exemplary democratization were echoed in Washington, Berlin, Tokyo, and Seoul – praising Mongolia’s steadfast commitments towards democracy.  In contrast, on 24 July 2009, Kyrgyz watchers received two conflicting messages about the presidential election. The Election Observation Mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) concluded that the presidential election was a “disappointment” and “failed to meet OSCE standards” for Kyrgyzstan as a member of the OSCE.8 But their counterparts, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Election Observation Mission and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) observers reported that the presidential election was “open and free” and even 136 observers of the CIS, a much larger contingent than the OSCE team, had “not observed any serious violations of voters’ rights.”9 But, in the following months, the majority of Kyrgyz voters complained and some protested over unfair elections. Following the pattern of political dynamics in 2005, opposition leaders removed the country’s second president Kurmanbek Bakiyev through nation-wide violent protests in April 2010.   This raises an interesting puzzle – why was the political power transferred by peaceful regular elections in Mongolia versus the violent protests in Kyrgyzstan? Under quite similar external and internal structural constraints, political leaders’ commitments toward democratization were initially highly applauded by Western governments regarding them as democratic outposts in                                                 7 General Election Commission of Mongolia, Results of Presidential Elections (Ulaanbaatar: 2017), 189-193. Retrieved from http://www.gec.gov.mn/uploads/erunhiilugch%202013%20book%20last.pdf  8 OSCE, Kyrgyzstan, Presidential Election, 23 July 2009: Final Report. Retrieved from http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/kyrgyzstan/39923  9 The US Embassy Cable, 24 July 2009. Retrieved from https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/09BISHKEK812_a.html On election monitoring of the CIS and SCO, see Cogan, Hurd & Johnstone, 2016, pp. 518 – 521 and Hyde, 2011.   16	the authoritarian neighbourhood of Inner and Central Asia, especially between two authoritarian great powers.  I argue that two factors – the geopolitical interests of great powers and political parties – are important to explain these diverging trajectories. The dynamics of geopolitical interests of great powers has a direct impact on the democratization process of a small state. The absence of direct geopolitical competition creates an opening for the democratic transition while increasing the credibility and leverage of Western democracy promotion efforts in a small, peripheral state. The presence of geopolitical competition closes the opportunity for democratic transition and reduces the credibility and leverages of Western democracy promotion efforts. However, this external factor alone is not sufficient for transition to and consolidation of electoral democracy. The other key factor is the absence/presence of a strong political party and party system. The strong political party provides an institutional stability during the transition and becomes an indispensible element for the consolidation of the electoral democracy as it serves a model and anti-incumbent platform for the opposition parties.   In a nutshell, I argue that the transition would not have occurred with the presence of direct geopolitical competitions among great powers and that electoral democracy would not succeed in the absence of strong political parties in small states in the authoritarian neighbourhood. To be clear, I am not proposing a general theory of democratization in small states and I agree that democratization may not occur due to many other reasons even with these facilitating factors. By tracing these two factors, I explain different modes of power transfer in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan either by regular elections or violent protests.    This chapter begins by explaining key concepts. Then, I review three major approaches – the structuralist, actor-based, and external dimensions – of the democratization literature and identify pros and cons of each approach in answering my research question. Also, I discuss the specific set of works that examined the democratization process of Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan before introducing my analytical framework. Then, I explain my analytical framework, which consists of the external factor (i.e., the dynamics of geopolitical interests of great powers) and the domestic factor (i.e., the absence/presence of the strong political party). The chapter concludes a brief discussion of the prominent alternative explanation – institutional choice.    KEY CONCEPTS    The concept of democracy is defined in minimalist terms, focusing on the competitive elections, or maximalist terms, concerning the quality of democratic institutions. This work  17	employs the minimalist definition, also known as the procedural definition of democracy, based on well-known formulations of Joseph Schumpeter, Robert Dahl, Samuel Huntington, and Juan Linz.  Schumpeter defined democracy as an “institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for people’s vote” (1943, pp. 242, 269). While criticizing Schumpeter’s definition as an elitist one, Dahl extended the definition beyond the process of establishing governments through electoral competition among elites by identifying five critical elements for the democratic process: effective participation, voting equality, enlightened understanding, controlling of the agenda, and inclusion of adults (Dahl, 1971, pp. 1-9). Similarly, Huntington defines democracy as a political system in which “the most important collective decision makers are selected through periodic elections in which candidates freely compete for votes and in which virtually all the adult population is eligible to vote” (Huntington, 1991, pp. 6-8). One of the most comprehensive procedural definitions was advanced by Linz, defining democracy as:  “Political systems that allows the free formulation of political preferences through the use of basic freedoms of association, information and communication for the purpose of a free competition between leaders to validate at regular intervals, by non-violent means, the claim to rule without excluding any office of national decision-making from that competition” (Linz, 2000, pp. 182-183).   I define an electoral democracy as a political system that (1) facilitates free, fair, inclusive, and competitive elections, (2) ensures full adult suffrage, including civil liberties and (3) resolves political conflicts through non-violent means. This stresses the self-enforcing political equilibrium, in Przeworski’s words, “democracy becomes the only game in town, when no one can imagine acting outside the democratic institutions, when all the losers want to do is to try again within the same institutions under which they have just lost” (Przeworski, 1991, p. 26). Therefore, the peaceful transition of political powers, especially of the legislative and executive branches, as a consequence of contested elections is the foremost criterion for the electoral democracy.   Following the tradition of transitology (O’Donnell & Schmitter, 1986; Linz & Schmitter, 1996), I divide the democratization process into two distinct, but connected stages – transition and consolidation – while acknowledging challenges to the transition paradigm, particularly overlapping elements between these stages and the difficulty of classifying transitional regimes in the grey zone (Collier and Levitsky, 1997; Carothers, 2002).   18	 Transition is the stage between the collapse of the authoritarian regime and the construction of a new regime. This is in agreement with the definition of O’Donnell and Schmitter as they define transition as an “interval between one political regime and another” and starts “at the moment that authoritarian rulers announce their intentions to extend significantly the sphere of protected individual and group rights” and ends with an establishment of a democratic regime though a relatively free electoral process (1986, pp. 2, 11-12). Therefore, in the transition stage, political leaders facilitate competitive, inclusive elections and abstain from major violations of civil and political liberties. Or, ruling political leaders take measures to strengthen the authoritarian regimes by closing opportunities for and/or delaying the transition stage.  Consolidation is the stage of institutionalizing regular elections and strengthening institutions to protect civil liberties. In the consolidation stage, the majority of political actors complies with the minimum procedural elements of democracy and abstains from competing for political power thorough any violent means. For the purpose of this research, the consolidation stage begins with the passage of the constitution, which sets the new rule for the electoral democracy, and successful completion of regular elections under the new constitution. The consolidation stage of electoral democracy ends as the electoral democracy passes the two-turnover test. By the two-turnover test, according to Huntington, “a democracy may be viewed as consolidated if the party or group that takes power in the initial election at the time of transition loses a subsequent election and turns over power to those election winners, if those election winners then peacefully turn over power to the winners of a later election” (Huntington, 1991, pp. 266-267).   For the purpose of my research, the threshold for the transition stage is the acceptance of multi-party elections and cessation of any violence against civil liberties of the population whereas the ‘two-turnover test’ is considered as a key criterion for the consolidation stage of electoral democracy.10   In this research, I use the terms ‘Great Powers’ and ‘Western’ extensively.  Following the generally accepted definitions in the international relations literature, great powers are states with political, economic, and military powers and a preponderant capability to exert power and influence on the processes of international relations, regionally and globally (Waltz, 1979, p. 131;                                                 10 In the words of Adam Przeworski, “ a democracy is a system, in which parties lose elections” (Przeworski, 1991, p. 10). Also, it is quite similar to ‘ex-ante uncertainty’ of Przeworski et al and ‘habituation’ of Dankwart Rustow (Rustow, 1970).   19	Organski & Kugler, 1980, p. 42; Levy, 1983, p. 16).  My usage of ‘Great Powers’ refers explicitly to China, Russia, the United States, and to lesser extent to Japan and India. China, Russia and the United States are historically regarded as Great Powers in the international relations literature, especially based on the criteria of realist school scholars, and behave as great powers in contemporary international relations.11 Japan and India are often referred to historically as “regional powers” or “regional hegemons” rather than “Great Powers” on a global scale. This is not to preclude that Japan and/or India could become or possibly were Great Powers in the past or future, but in the time period of the discussion, they are “regional powers” to international relations scholars (Nolte, 2010; Destradi, 2010).  I follow the general usage of the “Western” in the democratization literature to refer to longstanding, wealthy democracies, mostly in Western Europe and North America.  But, I acknowledge that the term is contested when one discusses the roles of non-European democracies, for example, Japan and South Korea, who had played crucial roles for political and economic transitions in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan. Therefore, the term ‘Western’ in this work includes Japan especially in discussions about the democracy promotion.   DEMOCRATIZATION THEORIES & GAPS  The Structuralist Approach  One body of literature, known as the structuralist approach, suggests that structural factors like the level of economic wealth, inequality and education, or economic structure determine the likelihood of successful transition and consolidation. But this approach faces difficulties in explaining outcomes in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan.   The most well-known argument is that a country’s economic development, particularly its socio-economic status, serves as a key requisite for democratization. Lipset argues that “the more well-to-do a nation, the greater chances that it will sustain democracy” (1959, p. 75). Socio-economic development, which would result from industrialization, creates a large middle class, one that tends to be more open to democratic transition and stability; therefore modernization and democracy are correlated (Lipset, 1959). Several major scholarly works reinforced this modernization argument. Rostow (1960) contended that there is an inevitable, linear connection                                                 11 According to Waltz, “[s]tates are placed in the top rank because they excel in one way or another. Their rank depends on how they score on all of the following items: size of population and territory, resource endowment, economic capability, military strength, political stability and competence” (Waltz 1979, p. 131).  Levy argues the “most important, a Great Power possesses a high level of military capabilities relative to other states” (1983, p. 16).     20	between economic modernization and democratization while Moore stressed the significance of the ‘middle class’ as a key condition: “No bourgeoisie, no democracy” (1966, p. 418). Rueschemeyer (et al., 1992) presented a compelling argument that an organized labour class is more conducive to democratization rather than the landowning class. In spite of these appealing probabilistic associations between core elements of modernization (e.g., urbanization, wealth, education, and communication), Huntington criticized modernization theorists’ neglect of the political order, especially the degree of institutionalization, which provides values and stability (1968). In Huntington’s reasoning, economic development releases new social forces, which, in turn, overwhelm traditional institutions and lead to instability rather to an orderly democratic society in the absence of the political order (Huntington, 1968). Examining bureaucratic authoritarianism in Latin America, O’Donnell argues that economic development could also strengthen autocracy and is unlikely to prevent democratic breakdowns (1973). But, the core structuralist argument of the positive correlation remains influential in explaining some successful consolidation outcomes (e.g., South Korea, Taiwan, Czech, Hungary) of the third wave of democratization (Przeworski & Limongi, 1997; Inglehart & Welzel, 2009).   Later from 1997, Przeworski (et al., 1997) presented alternative views on the economic development and democracy relationship by questioning whether development brings democracy (i.e., endogenous theory) or helps democracy sustain once it happened (i.e., exogenous theory). Przeworski (et al., 1997) argues that transitions to democracy could happen at any level of economic development due to ‘exogenous’ causes like war or the death of dictators, but finds that economic development reduces the probability of democratic breakdown. Based on data from 1950-1990, Przeworski et al. (2000) find that no democracy has ever collapsed when the per capita income exceeded $6,055 at the 1976 value. However, several scholars challenged Przeworski’s findings and argued in support of endogenous correlation between economic development and democratization. Boix and Stokes extended Przeworski’s dataset to the period from 1850 to 1950 and showed that economic development was a significantly important factor for democratic transitions (Boix & Stokes, 2003). Epstein (et al., 2006) challenged Przeworski’s methodology and contended that if use a trichotomous measure of democracy, rather than dichotomous one (i.e., democracy versus autocracy), development has a strong effect on transitions to “partial democracy” and “full democracy.”  The structural approach has been enriched by a number of specific studies, for instance, economic equality, which examines the relationship between inequality and regime change and the  21	resource curse, which investigates the correlation between oil wealth and dictatorship. The first set of works develops game-theoretic models to explain the causal mechanism between the degree of inequality and the probability of democratization. Boix argues that income equality and capital mobility, which tends to rise with economic development, reduce elites’ fear of redistribution; this contributes to democratization (Boix, 2003). Acemoglu and Robinson created a model explaining the relationship between the degree of inequality and democracy. According to their model, at low level of inequality, elites can promote democracy as the threat of revolution increases, but, at higher levels of inequality, elites will repress democracy due to their fear of the redistributive consequences of democratization (Acemoglu & Robinson, 2001, 2005; Geddes, 2009). The second set of works, known as the resource curse literature, has examined the missing variable in the structural approach since modernization theory scholars did not discuss the relationship between natural resources and democracy in regards to petro-states in the Middle East and Latin America. The majority of quantitative inquiries show that resource wealth, particularly oil is strongly correlated with authoritarian governments (Madhavy, 1970; Ross, 2001, 2015; Wantchekon, 2002; Jensen and Wantchekon, 2004). Succinctly argued by Ross, the oil wealth reduces accountability (i.e., no taxation, no accountability), increases the patronage system to dampen the pressures for democracy, strengthens the repressive capacity of the regime, and slows down the modernization process (Ross, 2001). But, the findings of the resource curse literature are also ambiguous. Some studies indicate that natural resources have positive effects on democratization (Smith, 2004; Morrison, 2009; Tsui, 2011). Another set of studies did not find any evidence that natural resources either lead to democracy or stabilize democratic governments (Al-Ubaydli, 2012; Caselli and Tesei, 2011; Wiens, Poast, & Clark 2012; Andersen & Aslaksen 2013). Other scholars suggest that under certain conditions natural resources can either lead to democracy or contribute to the breakdown of democratic regimes. For example, Karl argues that reduced oil rents during the commodity bust cycles increase the demands for democracy (Karl, 1997) while Dunning finds that oil increases the probability of authoritarianism as well as democracy depending on the level of inequality (Dunning, 2008).   Besides presenting a strong correlation between economic factors and democracy, the structuralist approach has some disadvantages in excluding agency (i.e., of people), political institution, and international factors. For the purpose of this dissertation, it fails to explain why economically underdeveloped, poor, and resource-based states like Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan made transitions to democracy while presenting different outcomes in regards with democratic  22	consolidation. Although an economic investigation, especially the impact of the mining boom, is not in the focus of my work, Mongolia’s potential escape from the political curse of the mining boom presents another interesting puzzle for resource curse theory.  Actor-focused Approach   The second body of literature is known as the actor-focused approach, which gives a higher priority to the interactions and choices of political elites, including ruling and opposition groups, than the structural determinacy of socio-economic requisite conditions. This approach considers democratization as a process, which goes through several phases. Rustow identified three phases – preparatory, decision, and habituation – through which states progress from authoritarian to democratic regimes (Rustow, 1970). Along quite similar lines, O’Donnell and Schmitter divided the transition process into two phases: liberalization of the authoritarian regime by extending rights, especially political liberties and democratization by introducing the fundamental democratic procedures and institutions (O’Donnell and Schmitter, 1986). In this process, strategic interactions of a narrow set of elite actors determine the fate of democratization while the popular upsurge of the masses plays an ephemeral role (O’Donnell and Schmitter 1986, p. 55).   The fundamental argument of this approach is that the internal rift among authoritarian elites is the first step in a democratization process and subsequently leads to short-term bargaining before ending either in pacted transition toward democracy or autocracy (O’Donnell & Schmitter, 1986; Przeworski, 1991; Karl, 1990; Linz & Stephan, 1996). The greater degree of uncertainty during the transition period forces competing elites to lock into a pact, providing stability, a guarantee of basic rights, and a check on the power of the ruling elites. Therefore, a compromise among ruling and opposition elites reduces the likelihood of conflict and, at the same time, strengthens institutions that would lead to democratization. Using the game-theoretic interpretation, Przeworski demonstrates a series of strategic interactions among regime hardliners and reformers and opposition moderates and radicals and argues that democracy is only possible when regime reformers ally with opposition moderates or radicals (1991). Karl and Schmitter (1991) develop four ideal-typical modes of transition – pact, imposition, reform, and revolution – by focusing on specific combinations of agents (i.e., elites versus masses) and strategies (i.e., compromise versus coercion). When elites are in advantageous bargaining positions, transition would end in pacted or imposed modes of democracy. Or, it would end in reform or revolution modes if the masses overwhelm the resistance of elites (Karl & Schmitter, 1991). Modifying actor-based theories, Linz and Stepan (1996) distinguish non-democratic regimes (i.e., totalitarian, post- 23	totalitarian, sultanistic, and authoritarian) and argue that the mode of transition is path dependent on the type of the previous regime. According to their argument, the pacted transition and democratization is the most likely if the previous regime is authoritarian or post-totalitarian while it is impossible from sultanistic and totalitarian regimes (Linz & Stephan, 1996, p. 57). Also, related to the actor-focused approach, Burton (et al., 1992) argues that elites control social mobilization; therefore, elites could influence their supporters in agreements that would result in democratic consolidation and stability. Elites can obtain agreements towards democracy through elite consensus, in which previously divided elites collaborate, or through elite convergence, in which elites gradually converge in favour of democracy (Burton, et al., 1992, pp. 24-25). In a nutshell, the actor-focused approach emphasizes the role of rational choice, decision-making, strategic calculation, and signalling of incumbent and opposition elites.   If the structuralist approach has its empirical basis in Western cases of the first and second waves of democratization, the actor-focused approach has its empirical bases in democratization processes in Latin America, Southern Europe, and, to certain extent, Central and Eastern Europe, where ruling and opposition elites interacted in uncertain political and socio-economic environments, and the location of transitions was not easily explained by structural factors. The actor-focused approach has three major shortcomings in relation to my research.   For one, the actor-focused approach usually examines the brief moment of transition or failed transition while over-emphasizing strategic interactions between regime hard-liners and soft-liners vis-à-vis the opposition elites at this condensed period of time. Pierson argues “game-theoretic approaches do not easily stretch over extended spaces (to broad social strategies) or long time periods without rendering key assumptions of the models implausible” (Pierson, 2003, pp. 200-201). Second, most of these works, particularly the early transitology work fails to explain the role of external factors, especially the rise of the democracy promotion agenda of the Western powers, membership conditionality and persuasion by the EU, NATO, and OAS, as well as the conditionality imposed by international financial institutions in promotion of the market economy and democracy. Third, it did not consider how the size of the state, the overarching geopolitical setting and the degree of vulnerability of a country could matter in political leaders’ decisions in regards with democratization. The smaller and more vulnerable a country is, the easier the decision-making process or strategic calculations could be – as argued by Katzenstein, in his seminal works on small states (Katzenstein, 1985, 2003). Because political leaders of small states demonstrate more cohesiveness, that makes them the most adaptable (Katzenstein, 1985, 2003).   24	External Dimensions  Another body of literature studies external factors in the democratization process. The external dimensions literature, indeed, provides some explanations why Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan made the transition to democracy and presented different outcomes.   External dimensions of democratization have attracted more scholarly interest following the third wave of democratization than early periods (Geddes, 2009, pp. 331-333). Three main reasons that resulted from this neglect of external factors earlier in the literature, as summed by Whitehead, are: (1) inductive theorizing based on exemplary cases, all of which seemed internally driven; (2) democratization was understood as a regime change happening in a given pre-existing nation state; and (3) democratization was conceived as a brief transitional process between two stable regimes (Whitehead, 2001, p. 442). Therefore, scholars of the actor-based approach underplay the role of international factors, as concluded by O’Donnell and Schmitter, “domestic factors play a predominant role in the transition” (O’Donnell & Schmitter, 1986, p.19).12 This situation has dramatically changed in the 1990s, when external dimensions played a decisive role in regards with the democratization process; this contributed to the emergence of theoretical shifts, which emphasize international influence.   The external dimensions literature evolved in quite interesting ways. To begin with, democratization scholars unanimously agreed that the end of the Cold War, particularly the geopolitical competition between the Soviet Union and United States, created a favourable external environment for democratization by providing breathing space for domestic politics and ending supports for authoritarian regimes. For example, Huntington argued that “the major shift in U.S. policies beginning in 1974 toward the promotion of human rights and democracy in other countries and Gorbachev’s dramatic change in the late 1980s in Soviet policy toward maintaining the Soviet empire” played a significant role along with other four changes (1991, p. 45).13 Linz and Stepan conclude, “formal or informal empires, largely responding to their own internal and geopolitical needs, may open a previously closed gate to democratization efforts in subordinate regimes” (1996, p. 73). The end of superpower competition weakened authoritarian regimes dramatically and triggered political and economic reform processes, many of which led to democracy, which                                                 12 It is important to acknowledge that earlier scholarship did recognize the importance of external dimensions, especially in cases of democracy of being imposed by the occupation of Western powers (Dahl, 1971; O’Donnell & Schmitter, 1986, p. 18).  13 Huntington identified the deepening legitimacy problems of authoritarian systems, unprecedented global economic growth of the 1960s, activities of the Catholic Church, changes in the policies of external actors, and the snowballing/demonstration effects as five major changes that have played significant roles in the third wave (Huntington, 1991, pp. 45-106).   25	was also the zeitgeist (the spirit of the time) (Linz & Stepan, 1996, pp. 74-75). Undeniably, end of Cold War provides plausible explanations for the democratic transitions in many small states, who struggled to survive under the conditions of intense bipolar geopolitical competition.   Secondly, the timing of Western domination of the international order affected major international relations theories. As the international order shifted to a unipolar moment, the literature has been enriched by three sets of overarching theoretical debates that explain why and how the Western powers promote democracy. The first set has a closer affinity to hegemonic stability theory, which focuses mostly on the international political economy and the notion of world leadership (Krasner, 1976; Keohane, 1984; Gilpin, 1986; Organski and Kugler, 1980; Modelski, 1987). As hegemonic stability theory postulates that once a preponderant country becomes a hegemon, it needs to structure the international economic system to its benefits and also promote the norms for the stability of the international system. The second set is democratic peace theory, which argues that democracies do not fight one another because of normative principles (i.e., a democratic culture of peaceful norms) and institutional checks on political leaders (Russett, 1993; Owen, 1994; Russett et al., 1995). Studies in the democratic peace literature demonstrate a strong positive correlation between democratic states and peace; this certainly enhances the economic interdependence argument of liberal theories. The final set, which is rooted in the constructivist tradition, examines how a new global norm, for example, democracy and democratic governance, has prevailed as a result of socialization processes internationally and regionally (Checkel 2003; Flockhart 2004; Whitehead 2001; Schmitter 2001).   Thirdly, following the overly optimistic hope for a liberal democratic era (Fukuyama, 1989; Sen, 1999), the democracy promotion literature has enriched the democratization literature, but it advocated the view of democratization as a global phenomenon, for which the Western democracies have a decisive role in its proliferation. With little consideration of domestic factors, scholars have examined different mechanisms of democracy promotion such as coercion (or direct democracy promotion), political and economic conditionality, persuasion, diffusion and contagion.14 As a result, the democracy promotion literature has accumulated knowledge on two fronts. One examines the unilateral role of Western powers, especially the United States and Germany in democracy promotion internationally (Carothers 1999, 2006; Cox et al., 2000; McFaul                                                 14 More on different mechanisms, see Whitehead, 1996, pp. 3-25; Schmitter, 1996, pp. 26-54; Bunce & Wolchik, 2013, pp. 123-148; and Youngs, 2012, pp. 287-315.   26	2004, 2010; Monten 2005; Rieffer & Mercer, 2005; Kopstein 2006). The other studies the role of international and regional organizations. A large amount of studies is devoted to the role of regional institutions in Europe, particularly the EU, NATO, and OSCE (Schraeder, 2002; Pevehouse, 2005; Pridham, 2005; Linden 2002; Pridham et al., 1994; Schimmelfenning and Sedelmeier, 2005; Whitehead 2001; Dimitrova and Pridham, 2004; Epstein, 2005). Within this segment, the role of the United Nations (Joyner, 1999; Rushton, 2008) and other regional organizations like the OAS and African Union (AU) (Cooper & Legler, 2006; Legler & Tieku, 2010) also generated some scholarly interest in democracy promotion. But the democracy promotion literature appears to explain a small set of successful democratization mostly in Central and Eastern Europe, which had been aided substantially by the EU and NATO.    Finally, starting from the late 1990s, with the resilience of authoritarianism in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the emergence of semi-authoritarianism in many former Soviet republics, and reversals following successful democratic transitions, scholars began to revisit the overly confident claim about the liberal democratic era and propose different explanations for the failure of democracy promotion (Burnell & Schlumberger, 2010, pp. 9-10). The well-known explanations include the proximity model, linkage and leverages, gatekeeper elites, and autocracy promoters (or black-knights). To explain the divergent outcomes of the post-communist transitions in Europe and Eurasia, Kopstein and Reilly (2000) demonstrate the plausibility of geographic proximity to the Western democracies as a positive influence on democratization. In other words, the closer to developed democracies the target states are, the more they will be exposed to Western norms, resources, and institutions. In linking external and domestic factors, Levitsky and Way (2010) identify five dimensions of linkages (i.e., economic, geopolitical, social, communication, and transnational civil society ties) and argue that democratization will succeed only if the Western actors have strong leverage and dense linkages or ties with the target state. Challenging the overwhelming structural determinism of the leverage and linkage approach, Tolstrup (2012) argues that the most important players in democratic transitions are gatekeeper elites, who play either a facilitating or restraining role vis-à-vis external influence based on their main values and/or strategic calculation. Recently, a new set of studies argues illiberal regional powers, namely China, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia, act against Western democracy promotion efforts by providing economic assistance to authoritarian regimes, intervening in domestic politics of neighbouring states, and creating regional organizations to expand the reach of authoritarian norms (Burnell & Schlumberger, 2010; Plattner, 2015; Bader, 2015, Obydenkova et al., 2015; Diamond et al., 2016).  27	The journals Contemporary Politics (2010) and Democratization (2015) devoted special issues investigating autocracy promotion claims and drew similar conclusions of scepticism about the overly claim about pro-democracy Western powers and autocracy promoting illiberal regional powers and stressed the necessity of examining the specific conditions for triggering anti-democracy reactions from regional powers as well as conflicting foreign policy objectives of Western powers.    Like the structuralist and actor-focused literature, there are some shortcomings in the external dimensions literature to explain my research questions. First, the external dimension literature has geographic foci mostly in Europe and Latin America where the developed democracies could have stronger effects on democratization than in other regions like Africa, Asia Pacific, Eurasia and Middle East. Second, it seems to assume that the external influence of Western democracies has mostly positive impacts on the democratization process while depicting roles of authoritarian major powers in mostly negative ways (Carothers, 1999, 2002, 2004; Levitsky & Way, 2010). Third, there is a tendency to examine external influence on the democratization process as if it is one-way process from the Western democracies to small states. This ignores the commitment, especially self-initiated strategic commitment from political leaders of small, weak states to make transition to and consolidation of democracy following their own motivations. Last but not least, geopolitical aspects require renewed attention as the global order moves from the brief unipolar moment to a multipolar order, especially at the regional levels (Whitehead, 2001, pp. 386, 406-410; Cavatorta, 2001, p. 175; Linz & Stepan, 1996, p. 238).  Literature Review – Mongolia  The democratization process in Mongolia is under-examined. The existing English-language literature could be divided into three major categories. The first category is anthropological and historical analysis, including the works of Caroline Humphrey, David Sneath, Stephen Kotkin, Bruce Elleman and Morris Rossabi. In this category, Rossabi’s work devoted more extensive focus on democratization by presenting the most critical appraisal of international developmental aid to Mongolia while accounting for changes in the economy, poverty, culture and foreign relations. But, these works paid little attention to the domestic political process. The second category includes studies which examined specific issues such as legal reform (Ginsburg & Ganzorig 2000), semi-parliamentarism (Munkh-Erdene, 2010; Moestrup & Ganzorig, 2007), civil-military relations (Bruneau & Mendee 2012; Mendee & Tuvshintugs 2013), elections (Maškarinec, 2014, 2015; Oleinik, 2014; Mendee & Last 2008; Schafferer, 2014; Radchenko & Mendee, 2018),  28	and socio-economic aspects (Dierkes et al., 2012). Although providing explanations within the democratization context, these works did not explain the democratization process. The final set includes works, which centered on investigating Mongolia’s deviancy; this requires a bit more critical engagement. The existing literature considers Mongolia as an outlier case.15 For example, Seeberg found that Mongolia was considered a deviant case nine times in large-N analyses and twice in small-N analyses in the period of 1990-2010 (Seeberg, 2014).   In the Mongolia-specific democratization literature, Mongolia is considered to be a deviant case on two accounts. First, from the “socio-economic requisites” approach to democratization, Mongolia is a deviant case because it was economically poor, aid-dependent, and under-developed. The only pre-condition that Mongolia fulfilled was near-universal literacy (Fritz, 2002, 2008). However, this high literacy rate applies to the majority of former communist states of Central and Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union. The second aspect is geographical isolation from the developed democracies in Europe and North America and regional clusters of new democracies like Central and Eastern Europe or Latin America. Scholars like Linz and Stepan (1996), Kopstein and Reilly (2000), and Levitsky and Way (2010) contend geographical distances and ties with the West have significant implications for the fate of democratization. In this regard, Mongolia along with Kyrgyzstan presents a strong deviancy – as mentioned earlier. There are several explanations for Mongolia’s unexpected democratic development in the current academic literature.16   Fish (1998) stressed the ability of compromise of political elites, the institutional choice of a semi-parliamentary structure,17 fast consolidation of the multiparty system, and a vibrant civil society as key factors for Mongolia’s peaceful democratic transition. Later in 2001, Fish compared Mongolia with Central Asian states and argued that Mongolia’s successful democratization was a result of the absence of negative factors like natural resources (i.e., oil and gas), geostrategic significance and external patronage, a national father figure, concentration of power, and regional power pretensions. He succinctly argues that the fate of Mongolia’s democracy will depend on                                                 15 As Carothers stressed “democracy seemed to be breaking out in the most unlikely and unexpected places, whether Mongolia, Albania, or Mauritania” (Carothers, 1999, p. 15; 2002, p. 8). Moreover, Huntington, Geddes, Doorenspleet and Mudde, and Seeberg have identified Mongolia as an outlier case (Huntington, 1991, 179-180; Geddes, 1999; Doorenspleet & Mudde, 2008; Seeberg, 2014). 16 Also, there are many articles, including those written as a part of annual review of Asian Survey, that discuss Mongolia’s democratization process, but only a few (i.e., works of Fish (1998, 2001), Fritz (2002, 2008), Rossabi (2005, 2009) fully concentrate on the democratization process.  17 In his words, “Mongolia showcases the virtues of institutions that disperse power, and particularly of a legislature-dominant form of semi-presidentialism” (Fish, 1998, pp. 127-141).    29	“the skill and imagination of its political leaders,” but he did not provide extensive empirical evidence (Fish, 2001, p. 337).  Fritz (2002) argues that the success of the Mongolia’s democratization hinged on a mixture of structural factors (i.e., Buddhism, nomadism, weak clan structures, and ethnic homogeneity) and conjunctural factors like political party dominance (rather than an individual strong leader) and dependency on foreign aid. In a special issue of Democratization on deviant democracy, Fritz advances five key explanatory factors: well established statehood and stateness, a high degree of economic and strategic external dependency18, democratic contagion from Central and Eastern Europe, favourable constellation of domestic actors, and lack of concern about social liberalization (2008, p. 785). By isolating factors in transition and consolidation stages, Fritz highlights that Mongolia’s vulnerability vis-à-vis its two powerful neighbours serves as an important factor for political elites to seek technical, financial, and moral support from the consolidated democracies, but she did not fully explain why and how this was the case (Doorenspleet & Mudde, 2008, p. 826).   In her co-authored article on Mongolia and Central Asian states, Fritz also argues Mongolia’s independent statehood and relatively strong links with the West have made more positive contributions to democratization in Mongolia than in Central Asian states (Fritz & Wheatley, 2012). Probably due to the scope and limits of the journal articles, like Fish, Fritz does not provide sufficient explanations about why and how external and internal factors shaped Mongolian political leaders’ decision over the democratic transition and consolidation, but rather listed all potential conjectures. Authors overlooked the role of Mongolian security institutions, ruling party and its leadership while over-emphasizing Mongolia’s connection with Central and Eastern European states.19   Three main weaknesses of accounts of Mongolian democratization in the English-language literature stand out. First, roles of the communist party and its leaders were under-examined because Western scholars discussed mostly the opposition leaders of a brief period of transition                                                 18 Fritz argues that Mongolia’s need for political and economic support from the developed democracies to balance against Chinese and Russian influence serves as a positive factor for both transition to and consolidation of democracy in Mongolia. But, she did not explain this logic fully.  19 Authors (2012) presented un-proven assumptions about contagion and diffusion from Central and Eastern European states through intellectuals who studied in Poland, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia and also some authors (e.g., Rossabi, 2005) even argued that the democratization process was driven by a few elites in the capital city. These assumptions have been challenged by Mongolian scholars (e.g., Gundsambuu Kh, Chuluunbaatar G, and Tamir Ch) and political leaders who were taking part in the decision-making processes in the early 1990s – as acquired during my fieldwork in Mongolia.   30	that started in 1990 and focused exclusively on structural factors and conditions. Therefore, Mongolia’s democratization process must be examined from the mid-1980s when reformist ideas were gaining popularity among political leaders as well as the public. The separation of the communist party from state institutions, especially from the legislature and bureaucracy were missing variables in these works. Second, scholars paid little attention to Mongolia’s geopolitical environment of the late 1980s. Unlike European communist states, Mongolia has always been locked into the regional geopolitical structure of Sino-Soviet/Russian spheres of influence. Therefore, changes in this geopolitical environment of Mongolia had long-term structural impact on Mongolia’s domestic politics as well as political leaders’ perceptions and commitments towards democracy. Third, the literature paid little attention to positive roles of China and Soviet Union/Russia in Mongolia’s democratization while giving overwhelming significance to Western democracy promotion efforts. If Moscow had not removed the long-lasting authoritarian leader, and Beijing had not pressured the complete Soviet military withdrawal, or Beijing and particularly Moscow had reacted against Mongolia’s outreach to Western powers, Western democracy promotion could not have been possible. Moreover, Sino-Russian avoidance of engaging in direct geopolitical competition in Mongolia have created a favourable external environment for Mongolia’s democratization and Western democracy promotion efforts.  Finally, critical roles of key external leaders like Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and US Secretary of State James Baker at critical junctures were under-examined. Therefore, a careful process-tracing to examine the interaction of external and internal factors is important to examine the democratization process of a small, weak state in the authoritarian neighbourhood.   Literature Review – Kyrgyzstan   The existing English-language literature on Kyrgyzstan falls into four major categories. The first category includes studies of political and socio-economic reforms in Soviet Republics and most of them treat Kyrgyzstan as a comparative case, especially for Central Asia (Olcott, 1996; Ruffin & Waugh, 1999; Cummings, 2002, 2003, 2012; Luong, 2002; Kavalski et al., 2010; Stobdan, 2014). The second category involves works on post-communist transitions and authoritarian renewals (Anderson et al., 2001; Collins 2006; Bunce et al., 2010). The third category centres on geopolitics, especially the re-emergence of the Great Game and manoeuvring of small states in the post 9/11 geopolitical context (Banuazizi, 1994; Collins & Wohlforth, 2003; Olcott, 2005, 2007; Roy, 2007; Cooley, 2008, 2009, 2010; Jackson, 2010). The final category consists of works examining different aspects of democratization in Kyrgyzstan: revolutions and mobilization  31	(Radnitz, 2005, 2006, 2010; Khamidov, 2006; Lewis, 2008; Cummings & Ryabkov, 2008; Stewart, 2009; Temirkulov, 2008, 2010; Kubicek, 2011), opposition, institutions, and parties (Koldys, 1997; Ryabkov, 2008; Alkan 2009; Huskey & Iskakova, 2010, 2011; Ishiyama & Kennedy, 2010), semipresidentialism (Huskey, 2007, 2016) and religion/nationalism (McGlinchey, 2011).   The trajectory of arguments in these studies is quite interesting. Up to 1995, scholars and policy practitioners regarded Kyrgyzstan as the ‘island of democracy’ and identified a number of key factors – open-minded political elites, absence of natural resources, foreign aid, and a strong, vibrant civil society contributed to Kyrgyzstan’s democracy (Pryde, 1994; Anderson, 1999; Davar & Chukaeva, 2012; Fish, 2001). Later, as Presidents Askar Akayev (in power 1993-2005) and Kurmanbek Bakiyev (2005-2010) abused their political power, scholars began to doubt whether the democratic political order could succeed in Kyrgyzstan and investigated various causal factors for the de-democratization process. Collins (2002, 2006) points to clan networks, Huskey (et al., 2010, 2011) contend the institutional instability and weak opposition; Ryabkov (2008) highlights the regional divide between the north and south; Temirkulov (2008, 2010) stresses the neopatrimonial rule and the elite’s control of resources; and McGlinchey (2011) argues for structural causes, especially elite fragmentation and vulnerable civil society, in the failure of Kyrgyz democratization. Cooley argues that U.S. geostrategic interests of establishing and maintaining the military transit base to Afghanistan undermined US policies and conditionality for Kyrgyzstan’s democratization (Cooley, 2008). Others explained how institutional choice (of the super-presidentialism), tensions between Uzbek and Kyrgyz ethnic groups, regional competition, the revival of Islamic culture, and geopolitical interests of China, Iran, and Russia have negative effects on the democratization process in Kyrgyzstan (Fish, 2001; Ambrosio, 2009; Jackson, 2010; Wachtel, 2013; Stobdan, 2014). Considered as a deviant case among the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan still poses interesting questions for democratization theories after two violent power transfers in 2005 and 2010 respectively.   Like the literature on Mongolia’s democratization, there are three major gaps in the study of democratization in Kyrgyzstan. First, scholars paid little attention to political developments preceding the Akayev presidency in 1990 and 1991, especially the promotion of semi-presidentialism in the Soviet republics and its consequences. Second, even though all scholars acknowledge the absence of the party system and institutionalization, scholars did not examine why that was the case and its implications for democratic consolidation as well as Western  32	democracy promotion. Third, studies highlight the changing geopolitical dynamics in the post-9/11 context, but they did not explain why Kyrgyz political leaders, unlike Mongolian counterparts, did not make a strategic commitment to democratization. Kyrgyz leaders do not see democracy as a crucial means to strengthen their state sovereignty probably because of their heavy reliance on the Russian protection, which seemingly ameliorates Kyrgyz concern about a potential China threat.  Overarching Problems & Gaps   There are two major gaps in the democratization literature, especially explaining democratization that is taking place in a remote, authoritarian neighbourhood between two great powers – China and Russia.   First, the geopolitical dynamics of the authoritarian neighbourhood are understudied. There is an assumption that Western powers unequivocally engage in democracy promotion globally while China and Russia, so-called illiberal major powers, promote autocracy. In the 1990s, Western powers, especially the US did not intentionally promote democracy in small states in the Sino-Soviet sphere of influence unless these states have made clear first move and commitments toward political and economic reform. The US was cautious and driven by its overarching interests of dealing with China and Russia on other issues with global and regional implications. In this context, the Sino-Soviet rapprochement and their retrenchment created a permissive geopolitical environment for contested domestic politics in peripheral small states. That dynamic changed by 2000, especially in Central Asia. The emergence of US geopolitical interests, re-assertion of Russian geopolitics, and Chinese rising influence have changed the overarching geopolitical setting. This rising direct geopolitical, especially geostrategic competition has undermined Western democracy promotion efforts while complicating the democratic consolidation process of small states. The relationship between the overarching geopolitical dynamics and the democratization process needs to be examined in order to explain the interaction of external and internal factors.   Second, the positive role of the old regime ruling party is under-examined despite scholarly agreement on the importance of the institutionalization of the political party and party systems immediately after the liberalization. In fact, there is a general tendency in Western scholarly works to downplay the role of political leaders, who related to the former ruling parties, especially communist ones, while wholeheartedly highlighting roles of the opposition leaders, civil society  33	organizations, demonstrations and media.20 Until the recent emergence of the “authoritarian resilience” scholars, who examined the roles and adaptive process of the former ruling parties (mostly in East and Southeast Asia), positive roles of the former communist parties have drawn little scholarly interests.21 But, in reality, some communist parties (e.g., Central and Eastern Europe) played leading, constructive or facilitating roles for the transition to and consolidation of democratic political order (Grzymala-Busse, 2006). The strong political party channelled interests of newly liberated social forces, facilitated the leadership succession, and provided a motive, model or a platform for the emergence of new political parties. Therefore, the positive roles of former ruling party leadership, critical members, and institutional strength must be examined without any ideological bias.22    My work will address these shortcomings and explain why, under what conditions electoral democracy succeeds or fails in small, weak states the authoritarian neighbourhood.  A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK    In the era of democracy, especially in the late 1980s and 1990s, political leaders of most small states came under pressure from their domestic opposition and the international community, which had been dominated by Western powers, to adopt norms of liberal democracy mostly in terms of elections and civil rights. Opposition pressure was effective when political leaders lacked support from great powers, including democratic ones, economic resources, and immediate security rationales for controlling society. Opposition pressure was less effective when political leaders had support from great powers or coped with security threats, which, in turn, provided justifications for the institutionalized control of the opposition and society.   Also, in the early 1990, political leaders of small states, particularly those lacking support from great powers, economic resources, and security rationales, introduced simultaneous political and economic reforms mostly in order to secure assistance, investment, and loans from international donors and financial institutions. This was often the case for the post-communist transitions, including Central and Eastern European states as well as republics of former Soviet Union and Yugoslav Federation. With institutionalized support and membership conditionality of                                                 20 For example, even in the mid-90s, scholars alerted with the return of communism as many former communist parties winning in the consecutive elections in Europe and expressed doubts about the reform of these communist parties (Linz & Stepan, 1996, p. 454).  21 On authoritarian resilience, see Nathan, 2003; Slater, 2008, 2009; Pei, 2012; and Heydemann & Leenders, 2011. 22 One example of such bias is to categorize any political leaders, movements and organizations opposing the communist party (or dominant party) as pro-liberal while painting everyone else, whoever affiliated with the communist party as the anti-liberal force. In retrospect, this attitude leads to misleading explanations and understanding of the post-communist politics.   34	the EU and NATO, democratization succeeded in most Central and Eastern European states, Baltic States, Croatia and Slovenia while democratization was staggered in the rest, which is not considered an entirely democratic neighbourhood given their geographic proximity to Russia, China and other regional major powers. But, in this authoritarian neighbourhood, Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan both made the transition to democracy and presented different consolidation outcomes.    To explain these diverging outcomes after initial transitions, I investigate the effects and the interaction of two factors: the dynamics of geopolitical interests of great powers and the absence/presence of a strong political party. One is external and necessary, but not sufficient for the transition stage; the other is domestic and necessary, but not sufficient for the consolidation of the electoral democracy. The Dynamics of Geopolitical Interests of Great Powers   Small states operate in different geopolitical settings which are mostly shaped by interests and actions of great powers; therefore, small states do not really matter.23 This setting changes as great powers prioritize their geostrategic imperatives such as dealing with threats, resources, and strategic competitors. Since small states lack power, resources, and capacity to change the overarching geopolitical setting, small states have high adaptability while their domestic politics are often vulnerable to changes in sub-regional, regional, and global structures. As Katzenstein argues, domestic political changes of a small state are “understanding-a-thing-in-context” rather than “understanding-a-thing-on-its-own” (2003, p. 9). The geopolitical context sets the stage for democratization; therefore, interests of great powers matter for the fate of democratization.   Great Powers historically engage in geopolitical competition to increase their sphere of influence and to accumulate power (Waltz, 1988; Mearsheimer, 2001; Wohlforth, 2009). However, Great Powers also avoid direct geopolitical competition with each other in peripheral small states since such competition is costly and could lead to unnecessary military conflicts. Sometimes, such avoidance results in explicit and/or implicit agreements of not engaging in geopolitical competition and respecting the geostrategic neutrality of small buffer states.24 Therefore, with respect to each other’s interests and concerns, Great Powers prioritize their interests, especially political/ideological, economic, and geostrategic (i.e., security and military) in regards with small, peripheral states. Direct geopolitical competition is defined as competitive policies and behaviours                                                 23 On the structural realist tradition, see Waltz, 1959, 1979; Walt, 1987; and Mearsheimer, 2001.  24 On ‘buffer states,’ see Ross, 1986; Knight, 1988; Cullather, 2002.   35	of great powers to gain geostrategic advantages over each other in small, peripheral states. The absence of direct competition creates a favourable external environment for democratization. This work argues that geostrategic – especially security – interests had a particular impact on democratic transition. Above all, the dynamic of geopolitical interests of great powers is an important variable, especially for the transition to democracy.25   The transition to democracy is possible in the absence of direct geopolitical competition of great powers because this absence creates a favourable external environment. First, ruling political leaders and regimes will lack support and backing from the allied or protective great power. Second, political leaders will have limited bargaining power with Western powers, who will lobby for democratization. Third, ruling political leaders will have little justification for controlling the opposition and society in alignment with security imperatives of great powers. The opposite of these dynamics is necessary, but not sufficient for authoritarian consolidation. Therefore, transition to democracy is not possible when (1) neighbouring great powers have vested geostrategic interests, (2) ruling political leaders have bargaining power, and (3) in the presence of immediate security threats. Therefore, the absence of direct geopolitical competition of great powers is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for democratic transition. Along with two other domestic factors: the presence of a strong ruling party, dominated by pro-reform political leaders, and opposition, the absence of the geopolitical interests of great powers constitutes necessary, but not sufficient conditions for the democratic transition.   This explains why and how Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan made initial democratic transitions in an entirely authoritarian neighbourhood. The transition has occurred not only because of Western democracy promotion, but due to a geopolitical opening, which resulted from the Sino-Soviet rapprochement, Soviet retrenchment, and domestic pro-reform political leaders. The normalization of Sino-Soviet relations created a peaceful environment, which removed the China threat, reduced the geostrategic value for buffer states to the Soviet Union, and opened breathing space for contested domestic politics in peripheral states (Gombosuren, personal interview, 2016;                                                 25 On discussions about the geopolitical importance in the democratization literature, see Huntington, 1991, pp. 85-99; Linz & Stepan, 1996, pp. 239-244; Whitehead, 2001, p. 410; Cavatorta, 2001, pp. 176-179; McFaul, 2010, pp. 3-29; Cohen, 2015, pp. 87-92. Whitehead succinctly argues  “geopolitical considerations need to be reintegrated into the analysis of democratization processes in general, and of those embedded in post-Cold War regional integration in particular. International support for new democracies may be a moral good in its own right; and it may also serve the best political, security, and economic interests of the citizens of the established democracies in the long run; but these hortatory arguments should not blind us to the hegemonic purposes and balance-of-power consequences that are also involved” (2001, p. 410).  36	Bayarkhuu, personal interview, 2016). The declining power, the Soviet Union/Russia, dismantled its political control, withdrew its military and security presence, and reduced its economic assistance (Byambasuren, 2012; Batbayar, 2002). At the same time, both China and Russia were reluctant to intervene in domestic politics of small states mostly in avoidance of triggering a security dilemma as well as anti-colonial sentiments among political leaders and society of neighbouring small states (Gombosuren, personal interview, 2016). Geopolitical interests of China and Russia were satisfied by their explicit agreement of keeping peripheral states geostrategically neutral, especially those states with limited economic value (e.g., oil and gas, transit routes).  In the absence of overriding security and economic interests, Western powers were cautious and less interested in causing tensions with regional powers in remote areas; therefore, democracy promotion was extended only after small states made solid first moves toward democracy. In fact, the promotion of democracy and a free market economy globally had been a key geopolitical interest of Western powers (Baker, 1991; Lake, 1994; Rossabi, 2005). At the same time, political leaders of small states also avoided pursuing any policies to threaten geopolitical interests of regional great powers. The absence of direct geopolitical competition of great powers is the most vital. As shown in the chart below, Sino-Russian geopolitical interests were satisfied if Mongolia remained geostrategically neutral while US geopolitical interest in Mongolia was satisfied if Mongolia committed to no reversal of the political-economic liberalization (see Table 3). Table 3. Interests of Great Powers  Great Powers Priority of Interests Content of Interests  Satisfied (if) Russia Security* Neutrality  No security presence/alliance China  Security Neutrality  No security presence/alliance Political Respect for Core Interests Non-interference in domestic matters United States  Political/Ideological Electoral Democracy No reversal   The dynamics of geopolitical interests of great powers are also important in democratic consolidation, but they could have mixed effects. First, unlike the Cold War period, explicit military interventions by neighbouring great powers are rare and constrained by international norms, organizations, and regional powers. Second, effects of political and economic interventions depend on a variety of factors, including size of the ethnic diaspora community, degree of economic dependency, and links to other regional powers. Third, any intervention or exertion of influence could intensify domestic political competitions and/or increase resentment, based on recent imperial history. Finally, any attempts of increasing political, economic, and even security influence in peripheral states could trigger geopolitical competition, which could destabilize the  37	small state. Therefore, explicit and implicit agreements of avoiding direct geopolitical competition among great powers in small, peripheral states are important for the consolidation of electoral democracy.   In regards to the consolidation stage, the overall external environment for Mongolia has remained favourable although Western economic interests surged during the mining boom and security interactions expanded in relation to Mongolia’s contribution to the Global War on Terrorism (La Porta, personal interview, 2016; Wachman, 2009, 2010). However, Western economic and security interests were not strong enough to override its ideological commitment of supporting the democratic consolidation (Wachman, 2010). The resurgence of Russian economic interests was constrained by its limited geostrategic interests, reduced social and cultural links, and avoidance of triggering a security dilemma with China (Batbayar, 2003; Radchenko, 2018). Mongolia’s neutrality and acceptance of Chinese core interests (i.e., One China policy) were a priority for Chinese interests in Mongolia (Indra, personal interview, 2016; Gao Shumao, 2010). In sum, Mongolia’s commitment to democratization was one of the