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Building on theoretical insights from research on the rentier state, several studies have argued that oil hinders democracy. However, previous research on the rentier state has neglected the global surge of multiparty autocracies since the end of the Cold War. In this paper, we combine the literature on multiparty autocracy and the political economy of the rentier state to study how oil affects elections in non-democracies. As oil production creates substantial and nontransparent government revenue stream, we hypothesize that oil production has a negative effect on electoral competitiveness in multiparty autocracies. Using data on all multiparty elections held in the world in the period 1975–2010, our results confirm that oil strongly impedes electoral competitiveness in multiparty autocracies, but has no effect in democratic settings. This paper contributes to the burgeoning literature on democratization through elections and highlights how unfavorable economic structures impede the chances of elections leading to liberalization.