The article reconstructs and explains the patterns of collective protest in four Central European countries: former East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia during the early phases of democratic consolidation (1989–93). The method of event analysis of protest behavior is employed. Content analysis of six major newspapers in each country provides empirical evidence. The examination of data reveals striking contrasts in the magnitude and forms of protests. In each country the policies of the new democratic regimes were contested by different groups and organizations, employing different repertoires of contention. The authors consider propositions derived from four theoretical traditions—relative deprivation, instrumental institutionalism, historical- cultural institutionalism, and resource mobilization theory—to determine which provides the best explanation for the patterns observed in the data set. Three main conclusions are reached. First, the levels of "objective" or "subjective" deprivation are unrelated to the magnitude and various features of protest, which are best explained by a combination of institutional and resource mobilization theories. Second, democratic consolidation is not necessarily threatened by a high magnitude of protest, since the two seem to be unrelated. Third, if the demands of collective protest are moderate and the methods routinized, then protest may contribute to the robustness of a new democracy.