In the past dozen years, new elected governments in much of Latin America and (more recently) all of Eastern Europe have confronted urgent problems associated with economic reform. In both of these regions, the collapse of prior military or communist regimes was partly a result of long-festering economic difficulties. In both, the adoption and the implementation of programs to stabilize and more fundamentally reform economies have posed formidable political challenges. And in both, the ultimate success or failure of those programs is widely viewed as having a significant influence on the fate of democratic political systems. This essay examines some of the major interactions between political opening and economic reform in countries where these have occurred more or less simultaneously.