This article has two aims: First, it examines the effect of a democratic and non-Western regional hegemon on democratization processes in neighboring countries, applied to the case of South Africa and its influence on democratization in Lesotho. Second, it applies Levitsky and Way’s framework to the case of Lesotho. The results of the analysis attenuate optimism about the potential of democratic non-Western regional hegemons to replace missing Western linkage and induce full democratization in neighboring countries. The analysis shows there is high linkage and leverage between South Africa and Lesotho according to Levitsky and Way’s measurement. Yet the 2012 turnover through elections in Lesotho turns out to be a sign of unstable competitive authoritarianism, rather than an indication of an evolution towards full democratization, i.e. it is the result of high Western and South African leverage, low Western linkage, and low organizational power of the incumbent party. A qualitative assessment of linkage between South Africa and Lesotho shows that linkage between the two countries is not as dense as suggested by the measurement according to Levitsky and Way’s criteria. This calls into question whether their measurement criteria for linkage actually reflect their own hypothesized role of linkage.