Systems of Government

Particracy is all about simulating modern national and global politics, turning all things political into an interesting and challenging game. To that end, it will feature considerable diversity of systems of government, so that players will more easily identify with their (ultimately fictitious) nations and its neighbors. The real world is obviously the main source of inspiration for political structures and systems that can find their way into game features, but the balance with gameplay and technical constraints has to be maintained. In this article, you’ll get some insight into the political systems that will make it into the game.

We cannot improve on the system of government handed down to us by the founders of the Republic. There is no way to improve upon that. But what we can do is to find new ways to implement that system and realize our destiny.Barbara Jordan

Dictatorships

The first distinction to make is between democracies and dictatorships. Since the game is all about voting, elections and political parties, the focus is on simulating democratic governments. There are some ideas for how dictatorships could make it into the game in a structured way, but that’s not very well defined yet so I want to keep that for a later post when the ideas are more concrete.

Republics and Monarchies

In the real world, there are roughly two broad classes of modern democratic governments: constitutional monarchies and republics. A constitutional monarchy can be distinguished from a monarchy in the antique sense, in that despite it having a hereditary head of state, it is subject to the rule of constitutional law. A republic is a country where the head of state is either elected, or appointed by officials who have been elected themselves.

Particracy will feature both types of nations in a system fairly true to the real world. The game will model royal dynasties, with named individuals with family relations and a system for appointing the heir apparent to monarch when the old monarch abdicates or dies. These dynasties are in principle not tied to a specific country, so a dynasty can be at the head of multiple countries around the world, much like how Queen Elizabeth II is nominally the monarch of over a dozen sovereign states, apart from the United Kingdom. Player parties will be able to reform their country from a republic to a monarchy, but obviously this will be a vote requiring a constitutional majority.

Types of Republics

There’s a fairly big difference between the roles of the presidents of for instance the US, France and Germany, despite all of them being republics. These countries are pretty good examples for illustrating the basic three different types: presidential republics, semi-presidential republics and parliamentary republics, respectively.

In a presidential republic[1], like the United States, the president is directly elected by the people and the office acts as both head of state and head of government. The president obviously has significant power, and this will be reflected in the game as well.

In a semi-presidential republic[2], like France, the president is also directly elected, but has to coexist with a head of government who is appointed and supported by the legislature. This system introduces a complex dynamic of powers, especially when the separately elected president has to contend with a legislature and a head of government who come from another party.[3]

In a parliamentary republic[4], the president is not directly elected, but is instead appointed by some other method, and holds only symbolic power, with the real power in the hands of the head of government. Typically this means the president is appointed by the legislature, but I’m considering other systems as well.

Particracy will support each of these three systems, and players will be able to tweak and modify their country by proposing changes to its constitution.

Unicameral vs Bicameral

Particracy will feature both bicameral and unicameral legislatures. A bicameral legislature has two chambers, like the House of Lords and House of Commons in the United Kingdom, whereas a unicameral legislature has just one chamber, like Israel’s Knesset. Obviously, since every country is malleable in the game, you’ll be able to switch from one system to the other. What’s nice is that you can have very different election systems for both, and that the elections don’t have to happen at the same time or interval.

In a future blog post, I’ll explain more about the different rules for elections that can be put into action.

Federalism

A very interesting planned feature of the game is the support for federal states. A federal country, or federation, is a country in which there is a level below the national level, with its own elections and government and varying degrees of power and autonomy. Particracy will feature these sub-national entities as well, and it will be possible to have elections and an executive at that level. The national level will determine which powers are to be transferred to the sub-national level.

International

A wide variety of international organizations should be possible, though all are created the same way: by drafting a treaty and having it ratified by national legislatures. These organizations can vary from a military organization such as NATO, to a an over-arching loose association with some limited parliamentary functioning, like the United Nations, all the way to a politically integrated confederal structure like the European Union.

It will be possible to design UN General Assembly style bodies, where representatives are not political parties, but delegates from member states. These can vote on their own types of bills, just like the national legislatures.

European Parliament type institutions where parties are represented from across all the member nations, will have dozens of player parties in them, all with a tiny share of seats. To organize manners effectively, parties can set up international party groups tied to these organizations (such as the PES, EVP or ELDR in Europe), in which they’ll get their own private discussion platform and leadership ranks. They’ll also be appropriately grouped in election news reports and such.

Conclusion

I hope this article has offered you some insight into the variety of governmental structures you’ll see in the game!

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Presidential system on Wikipedia
2. Semi-presidential system on Wikipedia
3. In France, this dynamic is referred to as cohabitation
4. Parliamentary Republic on Wikipedia
 

Wouter Lievens

I'm the designer and developer of Particracy, an online political strategy game. I came up with the first incarnation of the game, now called Particracy Classic, in 2005. After several attempted sequel or remake projects over the years, I've finally committed to building the ultimate version of Particracy, and I'm going at it full time to make it happen.

 

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