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The Political Reform system in Victoria 2 seeks to emulate the varied and ever-changing political situations of 19th and 20th century states. The Victorian Era is perhaps most known for its widespread political reform, particularly in Europe, but elsewhere as well. The political reform system is cousin to the social reform system, which was of historically greater importance in the latter part of the game, the Progressive Era. Unlike the social reforms available to the player, Victoria 2's political reforms are highly varied, and their impacts are far less clear-cut to a player. Ranging from slavery to voting style to unions, the scope of the player's decision-making power in the political realm is quite impressive.
There are many reasons to pursue political reforms. If you are aiming for a specific type of government, you may want to implement reforms that will change your current form into something else. Perhaps you want to give greater voice to the socialist underclasses so that you may implement social reforms and plan your economy. Or maybe you want to ensure that the liberal moneyed classes control policy. Or perhaps you wish to roll back reforms, and entrust the reactionary aristocrats with ultimate power. Whatever may be the case, political reform is all but inevitable in Victoria 2, especially if you want to stave off Jacobin and Anarcho-Liberal revolts.
Types of Political Reform
There are a total of eight political reforms, each ranging in their number of choices. Unlike social reforms, some political reforms are not "next step" reforms. For these reforms, the player may implement any of the possible choices and is not required to have already implemented some previous reform. Another difference between political and social reforms is that political reforms have no "costs"; that is, you will not see anything in the negative column in your budget. There are, however, very serious trade-offs unique to each reform that a player must weigh against each other.
A Note: Generally speaking, the reforms are listed top to bottom in order of most conservative/reactionary to most liberal.
Slavery is a simple political reform: you may allow it or disallow it. Many nations start with slavery enabled, mostly in Africa and Asia, but also in several New World countries. Most European countries, and most in the New World, begin with a slavery ban.
- Most countries won't be legalizing slavery, so the question is whether to keep it or not for those who start with it. Keeping slavery has a number of benefits. Their pay is essentially non-existent, so you're getting productivity in your RGOs for basically nothing. Furthermore, slaves always have all of their needs fulfilled, even if they have no cash. Finally, despite their lower productivity, slaves don't vote. An oppressive dictator might be better served by subservient enslaved people than free ones who pay him more taxes.
- Example: the Confederate States of America
- Banning slavery frees any enslaved pops instantly, allowing them full rights insofar as they are allowed them by other political reforms and by party stances. Banning slavery can be contentious, particularly in the USA, where it is a major issues for the first 30 years or so, until the Civil War resolves the issue. Slaves are not very efficient, so freeing them will boost productivity and probably your taxes. Free pops also grow at a faster rate than slaves, so freeing slaves can improve your build-up of craftsmen.
- Special Requirement: To ban slavery, a country must have an average militancy under three.
- Example: Haiti
Upper House Composition
The method for determining the composition of your upper house is very important to the progression of the game, because which party controls the upper house determines the availability of reforms. The option selected determines the process by which seats in the upper house are assigned. This can seriously affect the nature of election outcomes, so a discerning player can subtly nudge these outcomes by selecting a reform fitting his vision. There are four different reforms available, and the player does not need to reform incrementally.
Ruling Party Only
- As the name implies, this option restricts the seats in the upper house to members with similar ideologies to the ruling party. Combined with a government type that allows party appointment, this allows a player extreme flexibility in determining the ruling party and the scope of available political action.
- Example: The Czarist Russian Duma
- This reform limits upper house participation to the propertied rich (aristocrats and capitalists). This has obvious implications for the composition of the house; namely, the ideologies represented will be only those of the privileged few. That said, in a country with a large number of aristocrats, you can expect a highly conservative/reactionary house if this reform is selected, whilst a country with a relatively large number of capitalists may be quite liberal. Either way, this can be an excellent option if you wish to buck the trend of the broader population.
- Example: The 19th-century British House of Lords
Two Per State
This reform assigns two seats per state. This gives more weight to smaller or less-populated states.
- Example: The United States Senate, 1789 to present
Based on Population
This reform allows assigns seats based on the population of a district. This is the prime reform for a player who wishes to have an upper house that is representative of his national voting population.
- Example: Federal Council of the German Empire
The voting franchise is another very important political reform. The option selected herein determined to great extent what your upper house will look like, and consequently, what options the player has as leader. There are six options, and reform is required to be incremental.
- This option bans voting altogether. Such a reform level is typical of absolute monarchies and presidential dictatorships, among others. This option is useful to the player insofar as it allows him total control of the political scene.
- Example: Absolutist Austria
- This option restricts the vote to landed individuals, which in Victoria 2 is roughly approximated to mean the rich strata (though this is not technically accurate, as the landed-only restrictions on voting in early America still allowed considerable numbers of poor and middle class men to vote). This option can thus be expected to deliver upper houses composed only of those ideologies that the rich find appealing, namely conservative/reactionary in countries where aristocrats prevail, and liberal in those where capitalists reign supreme.
- Example: Early British Parliament
- This reform allows both the rich and middle strata to vote, thus extending the franchise to artisans, clerks, clergy, officers, and bureaucrats. However, the rich votes are counted for twice as much as the middle votes. This weighting can be very important, especially since so many countries at first have reasonable numbers of aristocrats but relatively small populations in the middle strata. Again, the results of this reform can be expected to mirror the beliefs of the empowered populations. If the country in question has a large population of capitalists and clerks, expect liberal turnouts. Aristocrats and officers will likely turn out reactionary or conservative.
- Example: Modern corporate voting structures
- This reform is identical to weighted wealth, but removes the weighting. All rich and middle class pops are allowed to vote on equal terms. This can be useful for achieving liberal votes if you have a large population of aristocrats but an even larger population of artisans or clerks, or the reverse as the situation might present itself.
- Example: Early American voting system
- This reform extend the vote to all strata, but weights the vote in favor of those with money. Rich strata pops are counted as three, middle as two, and poor as one. Usually this reform is useful only insofar as it delivers the player to or away from the universal voting reform, or as a hedge against reform-demanding revolters.
- Example: Prussian House of Representatives
- The universal franchise is as it sounds: equal and universal vote is accorded to all pops (except slaves or minorities, if policy dictates). This is for the player who wishes to achieve a full democracy, there the will of the people is represented fully. This reform puts you at the mercy of your population (most notably the poor strata, which almost always composes the vast bulk of your people). It is popular though, and will dissuade revolters.
- Example: Nearly universally applied in all modern republics, democracies, and constitutional monarchies
The voting system determines how your elections are carried out. There are three reforms, and they are not incremental.
First Past the Post
- This system gives victory to the candidate with the most votes. Expect bi-polar results focusing on the two most popular parties, favoring the more popular party heavily.
- Example: The United States Congress
The Jefferson Method
- Also known as the d'Hondt method or the Bader-Ofer method, this reform allocates seats proportionately by using a mathematical system which divides seats among those parties who received the most votes. Expect a multiparty system that still favors the most popular parties.
- Example: The modern Danish Folketing
- This method pools votes and assigns winners seats based on the exact proportion of votes garnered by each party insofar as the number of seats available allows. Expect this reform to very accurately portray voter party preferences. This accuracy can make for some very messy political situations, as even the smallest parties can get a voice.
- Example: The modern Austrian Nationalrat
The right to meet in public is central to a well-functioning republic or democracy, and is very important to civil society generally. In Victoria 2, this is somewhat crudely reduced. There are two options to choose from.
- This option totally bans public meeting. The practical implication of this is literally nothing. The not allowed option has zero effect, it is desirable to the player only insofar as its counterpoint is undesirable to the player.
- Example: The Soviet Union for most of its existence
- This option allows public political meetings. This increases political awareness by 25%. The mechanics behind this are fuzzy, but it can be assumed this means voter consciousness has a pronounced effect.
- Example: The United States for most of its existence
Like public meetings, press rights are a very straight-forward reform in Victoria 2, involving only one factor and minimal choices. There are three options, and they are incremental.
- This choice restricts the press only to state-run or state-sanctioned bodies, allowing for almost total government control over information. In practical terms, this reduces the effect of pop consciousness by 25%. This is very handy if you wish to stay conservative, very bad if you want to become liberal, socialist, or develop technologies quickly.
- Example: Nazi Germany
- This option allows for a somewhat free press, but the government reserves the right to censor out material that it finds offensive or antagonistic to its goals. In game, this means literally nothing. This option is simply a middle option, and is likely to be used only when the player cannot switch to the more highly desired reform, or is in the process of switching from one end of the spectrum to the other.
- Example: Prussia
- This options frees the press of government control. Information flows freely, and people are left to decide for themselves. This increases the effects of pop consciousness by 25%, a very useful tool for any player who wishes to change course quickly or gain the upper hand in research.
- Example: The modern United States
Trade unions were historically not an issue until the latter half of the 19th century, but this reform is available to the player from the start. There are four options, and they are incremental.
- This completely bans unions. This option has no effect, it is used only if one wishes to avoid the effects of the other choices or if one begins with the reform and cannot yet change.
- Example: Late fascist Italy
- This reform allows strictly regulated unions to act on a very short leash. In game terms, it increases pop's demand for social reforms by 10%.
- Example: Early Communist eastern bloc countries
- This reform allows all unions so long as they are not socialist. This further increases the demand for social reforms, up to 20%.
- Example: America circa the late 1800's
- This reform allows unions total freedom to organize, regardless of their political orientation. Practically speaking, this increases the demand for social reforms to a total of 30%.
- Example: Modern Europe
The formation and maintenance of political parties is important to almost all political systems to some degree. One-party dictatorships require a strong state-run party to provide them with loyal zealots. Monarchies use political parties within the rich-dominated parliament to build legitimacy. Republics use parties as the linchpin of their whole political system. The player has five choices related to the level of power the ruling party is accorded in relation to opposition parties. These choices are incremental.
- The ruling party is completely dominant, and actively seeks out and crushes the opposition with force. By limiting the competition, this choice increases support for the ruling party by 20%. This is very useful for players who wish to maintain the status quo.
- Example: the USSR
- The ruling party no longer uses violence against the opposition, but they are endlessly heckled and inconvenienced by ruling party goons and government officials. At this level, ruling party support is improved by 15%.
- Example: Many modern African "democracies"
- The ruling party or parties no longer openly attempt to interfere with the business of the opposition, but instead skew electoral districts in favor of their own interests. At this level, the increase in ruling party support is 10%.
- Example: To some extent, 20th-century American state and Congressional politics
- The political process is mostly open, but citizens' ballots are not confidential. The ruling party can thus employ goons or government officials to harry opposition voters into voting for the ruling party. This improves ruling party support a meager 5%.
- Example: 19th-century America
- The secret ballot allows voters to vote confidently in confidence. So long as their opinions are known only to themselves and those they share them with willingly, the ruling party will have extreme difficulty harassing opposition voters specifically. This reform has no effect, allowing party support to reflect voter preferences.
- Example: Modern America, Europe, and most other full-blooded republics
Implementing and Repealing Reforms
Of all the ideologies, only liberals are consistently in favor of liberal political reforms. The others require certain circumstances to support liberal reform. Reactionaries consistently support reform repeal, while other ideologies may be led to support these measures if circumstances permit. Generally, though, expect that a reform towards liberalism will not be undone unless via event, imposed by successful rebels, or though extreme luck of circumstance.
The political reforms data can be accessed by locating the Paradox folder in the drive to which it is saved, the navigating to Victoria 2/common/issues.txt.
- ↑ Specifically, a table is constructed listing the votes received by each party in the first column. The second column lists the number of votes divided by half, the third lists them divided by three, and so on. When the table is completed, the representatives are appointed by those parties holding the largest numbers on the table. See here for an example.