Postcommunist elites play rational power games throughout East Central and Eastern Europe today. But their games differ according to the structure, behavioral codes, and informal orientations associated with the paths of elite change. Although democratic institutions and procedures are in place just about everywhere, the differing elite power games account for major differences in extra-electoral politics and, thus, for wide variations in the quality of postcommunist democracies. The extent of the particularisms – clientelism and patronage, blurred functional autonomies and boundaries, violations of horizontal accountabilities, manipulations of the media and judiciary, harassment of opposition elites, personal vendettas, persecutions of minorities – define these power games, and they can be linked systematically to the patterns of elite unity, differentiation, and circulation. We view combinations of these patterns as constituting the critical elite conditions for different types of political regimes, including consolidated democracies.