"The Empress is Legitimist, my cousin is Republican, Morny is Orleanist, I am a socialist; the only Bonapartist is Persigny, and he is mad."
Introduction to politics
Victorian politics is an incredible complicated business. There are several factors to keep in mind, from national ideology to the specific ideals of political parties to the types of political and social reforms you grant.
Every country has a specific government type. These are: Monarchy, Constitutional Monarchy, Democracy, Presidential Dictatorship, or Proletarian Dictatorship. The vast majority of countries in the game will start and end as monarchies, although there is a great deal of transfer to constitutional monarchy and democracy by the end. Presidential and proletarian dictatorships are few and far between, and can only be arrived at through revolution. You cannot purposefully achieve either through a combination of political reforms (see "Reforms").
Every country also has an Executive Designation, which is directly related to what form of government you have. "Laws by Decree" reflects a monarchy, presidential, or proletarian dictatorship; "HMS Government", a Constitutional Monarchy; "Parliamentarism", a Democracy.
Each nation also has specific party system which determines how elections are run. In a One-Party state, the ruling party will continuously hold power and be reelected. In a Two-Party system, there exist third parties, but they receive a large penalty when votes are counted. In a Multi-party system, all parties have a chance at the election.
Countries come with a National Value. This represents the sentiment of the majority of the population, regardless of their political actions. This is the way the game reflects certain cultural determinants, such as the British and American aversions to despotism, or the German and Russian desires for a strong, central government. This is not to say that National Value does not change, but it tends to do so more through revolution than through political reforms. National Values come in three flavors: Order, Liberty, and Equality. Countries that value order will have more efficient crime fighting and military research. Societies upholding liberty will speed up non-military research, and societies valuing Equality will make social spending more effective at reducing militancy.
Political parties and their stance on issues
Each country also has files representing the political parties that can come into power, and each has its own qualities. But there are universal ideals that are combined in various ways among the parties:
The effect of these policies, obviously, is directly related to your ability to raise and spend money as you wish.
This means little or no government intervention in the private sector. A party with this kind of belief will not allow you to ever tax any class above fifty percent of its income, nor will it allow you to grant social reforms or spend more than fifty percent of the social budget. However, Governments ruled by a party with a laissez-faire policy get imports at half the price.
Interventionist parties allow all types of social reforms, and social spending is allowed between ten and eighty percent of the budget.
This is the essence of a socialist government. You cannot remove social reforms, only add them, and you cannot tax your population below twenty percent of their income. The minimum social spending is twenty percent.
This is Victoria's equivalent of a communist economic policy. Planned economy parties do not allow the taxing of classes at below fifty percent, and social reform spending can only be thirty percent at a minimum. In Planned economies, you can add social reforms, but not remove them.
These policies have a great effect on your citizens. Religion is one of the strongest motivators people have, and a party that attempts to crush religion in a very religious country (or one that seeks to promote it in an atheist country) will suffer revolts galore.
Pluralist parties allow all religions in a country.
One religion is dominant, and, while others may be allowed, they suffer for lack of funds or state support.
There is freedom of religion in the country, but the dominant mood is one of secularization and non-religion as people are accustoming themselves to the ideas of modern science.
Religion is forbidden in the country.
The type of minority policy your government has effects how content your minorities are to be living there. A strongly xenophobic party will virtually eliminate immigration and encourage emigration, whereas an open government can draw hordes of foreign workers to your shores, thus giving you free labor and costing your rivals.
In Full Citizenship governments, all people have the same rights, regardless of race, creed, or color. Minorities can vote only in this kind of government.
These kinds of governments distribute rights unequally, but the bottom-most class can still do everything but vote.
Residence governments allow foreigners or other ethnic groups to work in the country but allow them few liberties.
Governments of this type put the less favored classes into forced bondage.
These policies have an effect on the happiness of your POPs. Since a part of their happiness is determined by their access to goods, if the cost of those good is beyond their reach, they will be unhappy. Free Trade governments limit how much of a tariff you can impose and Protectionist governments limit subsidies for your POPs. In the latest patch subsidizing doesn't seem to work at all though.
Free Trade governments impose a maximum 25% limit on tariffs.
Protectionist governments limit subsidies for your population at 25%.
These policies determine how much you can spend on national defense, which is directly related to how much manpower and leadership points you accumulate. With low stockpiles of either, it is difficult to fight a successful war, especially a prolonged one.
A pacifist government does not allow defense spending above fifty percent, and you can't convert POPs into soldiers.
These governments do not allow defense spending to go above eighty percent.
These governments do not allow defense spending to fall below ten percent.
Jingoistic governments do not allow defense spending to be below thirty percent, and you can't demobilize soldier POPs.