Democracy 3 United Kingdom (First Term)

Democracy 3 is a turn-based political strategy simulation from Positech Games that I have had my eye on for several months, just recently picking it up during the Steam Exploration/Autumn Sale for $4.99. It is a largely text based game with no 3D graphics to speak of, however it has a slick interface that serves the subject matter quite well.

The depth of graphs, charts and data is immense and helps demonstrate the cause and effect of one decision on multiple aspects of society (which makes other such simulations such as Political Machine appear juvenile at best).

The name of the game is winning elections, and until earlier today I had lost every single election held while attempting to run a number of different countries. In one effort my term ended in assassination by religious fanatics. I then turned to some players guides which helped me understand the mechanics of the game (most things should have been obvious), and that helped me immensely by turning landslide defeats into close losses, and finally today some crushing victories.

Without reinventing the wheel I will state that the number one thing that must be done is to balance the budget. Obviously this is where the game breaks from reality as I know of no government that has done so and is currently running a surplus (a government that is self-sufficient and can defend itself from foreign aggression that is). If the budget cannot be balanced, it introduces a whole spectrum of problems that are difficult (if not improbable) to repair in one term in office.

The number two thing that must be done is to play to your strengths. No matter what someone may think of Mitt Romney and his 47% remark several years ago, the truth is that there is a ton of validity in that statement, and it manifests itself day after day in real life as well as in this game.

Running as a Liberal or Democrat? No matter what you do to appease the Capitalists and the Conservatives, they are not going to vote for you (at least not in a meaningful fashion) so don’t waste any effort and Political Capital in trying to secure votes from them – let them hate you.

Political Capital is the so-called currency of the game: a sufficient amount is required to enact policies which are the only direct way to affect change and influence the constituency.

Please note that the decisions made in the after-action report below do not necessarily align with my core political and/or social beliefs: I am simply playing a game to win it.

Setup Phase


For this AAR I select the United Kingdom, which has a population of 63 million (as of 2012). There are several other statistics represented here, some meaningful while others are frivolous.


The changes I make to this screen are to name the opposition party “The Conservatives” (from the available drop down list of names) and to change the term length to four years and the term limit to three. All other check boxes and sliders are left to the default for this country.


Walking into the office on day one I am presented with a high level summary of the situation at hand. Let’s see how I do managing the cards I have been (and will be) dealt during this first term.

Year One, Quarter One


At the beginning of my first (and hopefully not last) term I have the following: 26 Political Capital, £274.34 Bn in Income, (£278.03) Bn in Expenditures, a Deficit of (£3.69) Bn, and a total Debt of (£803.66) Bn. The Environmentalists love me and the Middle Income and Capitalists despise me.

A quick up front interface note for those not familiar with the game: this panel is where the bulk of the play time occurs. It is divided into several sections (pie wedges) and each segment has several different components.

The white circles are policies I can enact (if I have sufficient Political Capital), the blue circles are statistics relevant to that section, and the red (or green) circles represent situations that need to be addressed at some point.


The three biggest Expenditures that I have are State Pensions at £48.32 Bn, State Health Service at £46.89 Bn, and Military Spending at £25.75 Bn. The first two are taboo for placating my base, while the third can be cut (albeit with consequences down the road which will necessitate some fine tuning).

Currently Military Spending is at £25.75 Bn/Quarter and is classified as “Well Trained”. I slash this Expenditure to £10 Bn/Quarter which resets it to “Reservists” at the cost of 19 Political Capital.


At the close of the first quarter I am presented with two options for the "Debt Protection Law" and select to "Limit Agency Activity".

Year One, Quarter Two


The Police Force interacts with several other components, having a positive impact on the approval of State Employees and Conservatives, while having a negative impact (reducing) Crime, Violent Crime, and Alcohol Abuse.

A Red Line is not always bad, and a Green Line is not always good: these things are relative to the Policy and its effect on the root cause.


Currently Police Force spending is at £6.18 Bn/Quarter and is classified as “Medium”. I maximize this Expenditure to £10.95 Bn/Quarter which resets it to “Maximum” at the cost of 4 Political Capital.


The Intelligence Services interacts with several other components, having a positive impact on the approval of Patriots, while having a negative impact on Liberals, as well as reducing Crime and Organized Crime.


Currently Intelligence Services spending is at £6.14 Bn/Quarter and is classified as a “Sizeable Spy Agency”. I maximize this Expenditure to £7.85 Bn/Quarter which resets it to a “Spy Satellite Network” at the cost of 7 Political Capital.


At the close of the second quarter I am presented with two options for the "Fracking" question and select to ban the process.

Year One, Quarter Three


The Capital Gains Tax interacts with several other components, making the Socialists happier and further deteriorating the opinion of the Self Employed, the Wealthy, and the Capitalist factions.


Currently the Capital Gains Tax is at 11% and is bringing in £5.74 Bn/Quarter. I increase the tax rate to 15% which is estimated to bring in £7.80 Bn/Quarter at the cost of 7 Political Capital.

In my opinion taxes are blunt instruments and only should be incrementally increased or decreased, with a rule of thumb not to exceed 5% in either direction as the ripple effect on society and the economy can be unpredictable at times.


At the close of the third quarter I am notified that our oil pipeline has been attacked, most likely due to the decrease in Military Spending (and an abstracted weakening of the forces).

Year One, Quarter Four


The Corporation Tax interacts with several other components, making the Socialists happier and further deteriorating the opinion of the Self Employed, the Wealthy, and the Capitalist factions.


Currently the Corporation Tax is at 12% and is bringing in £19.10 Bn/Quarter. I increase the tax rate to 15% which is estimated to bring in £24.70 Bn/Quarter at the cost of 19 Political Capital.


At the close of the fourth quarter I am presented with two options for the proposed ban on same sex marriage. Regardless of what your viewpoint on this may be in real life, in this game I have found the question to be a no-brainer: allow the marriages (I am playing the game to win it).

Year/Quarter End Summary


During my first year in office I have managed to turn a (£3.69) Bn Deficit into a £5.32 Bn Surplus, while reducing the nation’s Debt from (£803.66) Bn to (£798.27) Bn. With regard to Voting Intentions, although I am currently under the red line I could possibly win an election if held now depending on how many voters simply stay home and don’t vote.

  • Y1Q1/INC £274.34 Bn/EXP (£278.03) Bn/DEF (£3.69) Bn/DBT (£803.66) Bn/VOTE 38.75%
  • Y1Q2/INC £275.64 Bn/EXP (£271.66) Bn/SUR £3.98 Bn/DBT (£807.35) Bn/VOTE 42.40%
  • Y1Q3/INC £272.85 Bn/EXP (£267.75) Bn/SUR £5.10 Bn/DBT (£803.37) Bn/VOTE 48.05%
  • Y1Q4/INC £269.26 Bn/EXP (£263.94) Bn/SUR £5.32 Bn/DBT (£798.27) Bn/VOTE 47.05%

Year/Quarter/Income/(Expenditure)/Deficit (or Surplus)/Debt/Voting Intentions

Year Two, Quarter One


At the start of the second year of my first term in office, I decided to increase revenue to the government by adjusting the Income Tax from 45% which is bringing in £143.26 Bn/Quarter to 50% which will bring in £173.08 Bn/Quarter.

This change will have a negative impact on the Middle Income faction while slightly increasing Equality and the Socialist faction rating.

There are a number of things I could have done with the Income Tax: I could have left it alone, or I could have abolished it outright and replaced it with a universal Flat Tax (one of the available policies). However as I mentioned earlier, taxes seem to be blunt instruments and I only want to make small changes that can be easily reversed.


At the close of the first quarter I am notified that the credit rating has been downgraded to BBB. This affects the interest rate that is paid (which increases Expenditures) and if allowed to go unchecked can eat up the entire budget.

I managed to go from a Surplus of £5.32 Bn to a Deficit of (£6.10) Bn in one quarter, predominantly due to a drop of £11.27 Bn in Income.

Year Two, Quarter Two


A quick check of the Polling data indicates that the largest constituency is the Socialist faction at 78.6% of the population, and I am receiving the highest level of support from the Environmentalist, Retired, and State Employees factions. To win the upcoming election, I will have to play to my base and largely ignore (where possible) those who absolutely will not vote for me in any circumstance.


Presently my Political Compass is sitting in the northeastern section of the Socialist/Liberal quadrant. This is based solely on the tax and social policies I have implemented so far.


At the close of the second quarter I am notified that our embassy in some fictional Middle Eastern country has been attacked resulting in significant casualties on the ground. This is most likely due to the slashing of the defense budget at the beginning of the game.

I managed to go from a Deficit of (£6.10) to a Surplus of £26.10 Bn in one quarter, predominantly due to an increase of £32.71 Bn in revenue to the government from the Tax increase.

Year Two, Quarter Three


The Prisons interact with four specific components, having a positive impact on Liberals, State Employees, and Conservative factions while serving to reduce Unemployment.


Currently Prison spending is at £2.66 Bn/Quarter and is classified as “Basic Provision”. I maximize this Expenditure to £5.05 Bn/Quarter which resets it to “Extensive Rehabilitation” at the cost of 7 Political Capital.


At the close of the third quarter I am presented with two options for the "Freedom of Information" proposal and decide to support it.

Year Two, Quarter Four


At the start of the fourth quarter I decided to start spending some of the £20 Bn Surplus that has accumulated from taxing the populace and gutting the military. The Welfare Fraud Department initiative is one that is popular with the voters, and although it will take three quarters to implement, it has the potential to increase Income by up to £1.13 Bn (at the cost of £772M).


The starting values of the program bring in just £644.89 Mn/Quarter and are rated at “TV Ad Campaigns”, so I maximize it to “Undercover Investigations” which is projected to bring in £1.13 Bn/Quarter.


At the close of the fourth quarter I am presented with two options for the "Curb Banking Bonuses" proposal and select to implement the restrictions (here yet again I am playing the game to win it).

Year/Quarter End Summary


During my second year in office I have managed to turn a 50.75% Voter Intentions rating on its head, reducing it to 32.60% which would mean certain defeat if the election were held today. But it is not being held today, and in this game timing is everything so I am willing to take some lumps now (raising the Income Tax, etc.) during my second year in office.

  • Y2Q1/INC £257.99 Bn/EXP (£264.09) Bn/DEF (£6.10 Bn)/DBT (£792.95) Bn/VOTE 50.75%
  • Y2Q2/INC £290.70 Bn/EXP (£264.61) Bn/SUR £26.10 Bn/DBT (£799.05) Bn/VOTE 45.10%
  • Y2Q3/INC £281.59 Bn/EXP (£262.97) Bn/SUR £18.62 Bn/DBT (£772.96) Bn/VOTE 31.85%
  • Y2Q4/INC £281.43 Bn/EXP (£262.41) Bn/SUR £19.02 Bn/DBT (£754.33) Bn/VOTE 32.60%

Year/Quarter/Income/(Expenditure)/Deficit (or Surplus)/Debt/Voting Intentions

Year Three, Quarter One


The Sales Tax interacts with several other components, predominantly in a negative form across the board. However it is a revenue source that I intend to exploit early on.


Currently the Sales Tax is at 23% (quite ghastly) and is bringing in £32.42 Bn/Quarter. I increase the tax rate to 25% which is estimated to bring in £35.78 Bn/Quarter at the cost of 26 Political Capital.

My overall strategy here is to take the punishment early on by raising taxes and possibly squeak out a close election victory, then to turn around and spend their money on services and marginal tax reductions here and there in my second term to increase my chances of being elected to a third time.


At the close of the first quarter I face a "Media Backlash!" event which has a marginally detrimental impact on the opinion of all constituency groups, but is quite easily checked by reducing the budget deficit over time.

Year Three/Quarter Two


Getting in touch with my inner repressed Tree Hugger self, I decide to implement the Hybrid Cars Initiative which is widely popular with the voters. Although it is a Tax policy, it will not bring in any additional revenue to the government.


The starting values of the program cost  £316.73 Mn/Quarter and are rated at “Medium”, so I decide to leave this in place so I can tweak it down the road (pun intended) as needed.


At the close of the second quarter I am presented with two options for the "Oil Drilling Opportunity" question and select to "Allow Drilling" which may completely negate any bump I may have received from the Hybrid Cars Initiative that was just implemented.

While being all about warm fuzzy animals, I am also about energy security so I break with my trend of "playing the game to win it" here. Politicians are all about paradoxes (don’t get me started about those who oppose the death penalty yet gleefully endorse abortion).

Year Three/Quarter Three


Another widely popular policy with the voters is the implementation of a Luxury Goods Tax which has the potential to bring in anywhere from £122 Mn to £8.63 Bn at no cost to the government. This is where I kind of disagree in that any implementation of a new policy will require a certain infrastructure to be built around it (even if adding an additional tax when you already have an entity collecting other sources of revenue).


The starting values of the program bring in £4.38 Bn/Quarter at a 46% rate, so I increase it to a 50% rate which is projected to bring in £4.78 Bn/Quarter. This will allow me to later reduce back to 46% (if needed) so I can give the appearance of cutting taxes.

Politicians are assholes, one and all…


At the close of the third quarter I receive the first direct threat on my administration, a plot being devised by the Patriotic faction. Early in the game I maximized funding to the Police Force and the Intelligence Services which I think is all that really can be done short of pandering to the group that is generating the threat (which I have zero intention of doing).


Due to the balance I am striking between Income and Expenditures and the overall Debt reduction that has occurred as a result, the credit rating for the nation has been upgraded to A which will mean lower rates and interest payments, further reducing Expenditures and increasing the existing Surplus.

Year Three/Quarter Four


The ongoing Asthma Epidemic has several sources feeding it.


Branching out (pun intended) The Environment is quite more complex in terms of inputs, as well as several Policy decisions that can alter its impact on society.


In specific terms of Policy, I focus on Recycling (which will make the Tree Huggers happy).


The existing Recycling policy costs the government £586.34 Mn/Quarter and is classified as “Bottle Banks”, so I increase this to “Recycling Centers” at a cost of £866.28 Mn/Quarter and 4 Political Capital.


At the close of the fourth quarter I receive notification of the "Pirates Capture Oil Tanker" event, the result of my bare bones military, as well as another warning about the plot against the government from the Patriotic faction (how patriotic of them).

Year/Quarter End Summary


During my third year in office I have managed to capture the hearts and minds of the voting public, closing out the fourth quarter of the third year (before the pirate event) at my highest Voting Intentions rating yet, 61.70%. This would be a landslide victory for my party if elections were held today (but they’re not, I still have another year to go to screw things up!)

  • Y3Q1/INC £284.19 Bn/EXP (£262.58) Bn/SUR £21.61 Bn/DBT (£735.36) Bn/VOTE 42.85%
  • Y3Q2/INC £283.64 Bn/EXP (£261.80) Bn/SUR £21.85 Bn/DBT (£713.75) Bn/VOTE 39.35%
  • Y3Q3/INC £291.68 Bn/EXP (£260.84) Bn/SUR £30.84 Bn/DBT (£692.22) Bn/VOTE 47.35%
  • Y3Q4/INC £300.15 Bn/EXP (£258.02) Bn/SUR £42.14 Bn/DBT (£657) Bn/VOTE 61.70%

Year/Quarter/Income/(Expenditure)/Deficit (or Surplus)/Debt/Voting Intentions

Year Four, Quarter One


The Telecommuting Initiative is popular with the voters and has a marginal cost to the government (since we are spending the people’s money anyway, why not?)


The starting values of the program cost  £596.20 Mn/Quarter and are rated at “Medium”, so I decide to leave this in place so I can tweak it down the road as needed.


At the end of the first quarter I receive notification of the "Brain Drain" situation developing, which is where the best and the brightest entrepreneurs leave the country to make money elsewhere due to the current tax system. The nation’s credit rating has been upgraded once again, and I receive another notification of the plot of the Patriotic faction that threatens my administration (if not my virtual life).

Year Four, Quarter Two


I actually did nothing during this turn. Sometimes it is best to leave things alone.


At the end of the second quarter I am presented with the “Bail Out Company” event, and I chose to “Help The Company” by providing a tax free loan (highly abstracted as there is nothing I do other than approve it here). I cannot afford any downstream negative economy effect heading into the election.

Year Four, Quarter Three


The Food Stamps welfare policy is insanely popular with the voters so this is another no-brainer decision since I have the people’s money to burn (who better to spend it than the government?)


The default settings are £2.56 Bn/Quarter which is classified as “Medium”, so I drop it to £1.01 Bn/Quarter, or “Low” at the introduction cost of 4 Political Capital. Although the policy has not yet been implemented, it should only take one turn.


At the end of the third quarter I receive notification of another “Media Backlash!” event which to me seems somewhat arbitrary here as I currently enjoy massive Debt reduction, a budget Surplus, and approval of 65% of the voting public. Oh yeah, and the Patriotic faction still wants me dead.


This is the last turn before the election and even though I am popular with the voters, I decided to push through some pandering items to ensure my victory. The first is the Consumer Rights policy from the Economy section which has a nominal cost but is popular with most of the voters.


The default settings are £30.48 Mn/Quarter which is classified as “Automated Refunds”, so I decide to leave that in place at the introduction cost of 14 Political Capital. Although the policy has not yet been implemented, it should only take one turn.


The Free Eye Tests policy from the Public Services section is very popular with the voters and although it costs a great deal more than the Consumer Rights policy, I decide to go forward with it anyway (I am a virtual politician here, I can always take it back if needed).


With this policy I decide to drop the Expenditure to £1 Bn/Quarter which is classified as “Low” at the introduction cost of 8 Political Capital. Although the policy has not yet been implemented, it should only take one turn.

Year/Quarter End Summary


During the fourth year  of what is hopefully my first term in office, I have managed to solidify my popular support among the majority of voters. Although there are no debates or advertising represented in the game, the election is still front and center on my mind through each decision made and the timing of its implementation.

  • Y4Q1/INC £317.22 Bn/EXP (£256.95) Bn/SUR £60.26 Bn/DBT (£614.86) Bn/VOTE 50.35%
  • Y4Q2/INC £291.86 Bn/EXP (£254.73) Bn/SUR £37.13 Bn/DBT (£555.20) Bn/VOTE 64.15%
  • Y4Q3/INC £298.96 Bn/EXP (£253.44) Bn/SUR £45.51 Bn/DBT (£520.94) Bn/VOTE 67.50%
  • Y4Q4/INC £279.79 Bn/EXP (£252.70) Bn/SUR £27.09 Bn/DBT (£477.98) Bn/VOTE 64.70%

Year/Quarter/Income/(Expenditure)/Deficit (or Surplus)/Debt/Voting Intentions

The Election


My party earns 42% of the vote on a 60% turnout, whereas the opposing party received half of that at 21% (even though they had a higher turnout at 72%). A total of 23,137,882 citizens (37%) did not vote during this election.


The final Quarterly Report of the first term presents the “Land Mine Ban” question which I elect to enforce. The terrorist group “The Patriotic Army” still threatens my existence.

Please check back for the Second Term!!

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