The recent wave of democratic transitions has stimulated scholarly interest in a previously undeveloped area of study: comparative presidentialism. Comparative presidentialism seeks to define variant types of presidentialism that have emerged from transition processes, to identify the conditions that shape institutional choice and to understand more clearly the causal relationship between institutional choice and democratic regime outcomes. Using the postcommunist transitions, this paper contributes to the emerging comparative presidentialism literature by suggesting a revision to the argument that presidentialism leads to failed democratic transitions. The paper focuses attention away from the institutional rules of the game and toward the actors who actually make the institutional choice. Three postcommunist cases, distinguished by their different regime outcomes, are compared: Russia, Uzbekistan, and Estonia.