Since 2007, the competitive-authoritarian regime that President Hugo Cháez created in Venezuela has become less competitive, and by extension, more authoritarian. This article explores the causes of this transformation. The electoral decline of Cháez’s ruling party has to do mostly with the regime’s mismanagement of the economy, heightened radicalism in dealing with the opposition, heavy-handed approach to the oil sector and lackadaisical approach to crime. The regime is in a trap. The more the government loses hegemony over the electorate, the more it responds by increasing autocratic practices, which further erodes its electoral appeal.