The 1800s were a time of great change and upheaval around the globe, as populations began to understand more about the world around them. They began to aspire to improve their lives. And so begins the modern age of politics!
Victoria 2 uses an interconnected set of concepts to measure each POP’s (a unit of population) Consciousness, Plurality and Militancy. The first two serve to increase the POPs’ interest in improving their circumstances. If they are interested but unable, perhaps because they don’t have enough money, they may become militant and even rebel!
So the government serves a number of roles besides the basic running of the country. It’s in the government’s interest (yes, that's you!) to keep the people happy, but if the people ask for too much, the governing classes may be either unwilling or unable.
Political Parties exist to promote one policy or another, depending on their ideology and issue interests. In a democratic country, the people have a role in choosing which party is in power. In monarchies the ruler may influence this more directly. Certain political parties may prohibit or demand certain reforms.
And that’s another way to keep the people happy. Social reforms improve the living conditions of the people, but are very expensive because more bureaucrats are required to run everything efficiently. Political reforms allow the people more say in how their country is run. A government that is too free with its political reforms may find it has less and less to say about things it may want or need to do.
We simulate an upper house and a lower house. The upper chamber determines long-term policy, like whether to enact reform. The lower house sets more minor policies, like how high your tariffs can be, or whether you can subsidise your factories.
In countries which hold elections, those who are allowed to vote will support the political parties closest to their own beliefs, and the party with the most popular support among those who vote will end up winning and helping to make decisions.
As you play the game, certain options may open up for your government to take. These are called "decisions," and they may be of great import — things such as building the Suez Canal, or annexing Texas. The decision first appears when it becomes a potential future option, but only becomes selectable when you've met the conditions to make it possible.