I wrote a long, rambling post on this the other day then decided not to submit it.
In short, my conclusion was that you seem to be able to live off your past successes too much in Democracy (1 and 2). If you trun the country into a utopia, great, but you seem to then be able to retain near 100% of the support indefinitely. People generally look to what you are going to give them in the future, not what you gave them in the past. Look at the first election after WWII. If people were simply going to vote on previous successes, they would have overwhelmingly voted for the Conservatives, as Winston Churchill, the party leader, had just won the war for Britain. But they didn’t. They preferred Labour’s policies on the welfare state, etc.
Basically, over time people should get more and more used to the state that the country is in and expect more and more. Take my mission I made called Newland, where all cancellable policies were cancelled and all other policies down at a minimum. The country is in anarchy, there is no health provision, etc. etc. Now, what do the population expect from me (if this was real life)? Certainly not to turn the country into a utopia. Essentially their first priorities will be their most basic needs - get rid of the street gangs, get some minimum level of healthcare. Complete eradication of crime or a world-beating economy are not major priorities at this stage. Also, think of something like CO2 emissions - no one is likely to care less when all they want to do is survive until the next day.
Now, let’s say that by the first election I have brought down hospital overcrowding slightly, got the street gangs under some kind of control, and given the economy a small kick-start, I should win the election. But now people have that, they want more. If I just coast the next term and the country is in exactly the same state at the next election, I should be kicked out. To win the next election I should be looking at cutting crime further, maybe sorting out a few more of the problem situations the country has, getting hospital overcrowding under control. Then in the third term, with basic needs under control, people will start to raise their expectations further, to things beyond necessities, things that are simply desirable. So they will now not put up with things like hospital overcrowding and organised crime, and they may start to turn their attention to things like CO2 emissions.
As the country’s situation gets better and better, people should start wanting more and more. This means that I am never going to get to a situation where I have near 100% support and nothing more to do. People’s expectations will always be that things get better. If I have a utopia, and between elections the crime rate rises just slightly, and there is just the slightest increase in CO2 emissions, people should be starting to defect to the other party. The other party should never be beaten - look at the Labour Party in the 1980s - they looked defeated after the Tories economic success - but they won again. I would argue that the country was in a better state in 1997 than 1979 - but this did not guaruntee the Tories victory. People were unhappy about the deterioration from 1992 - 1997 - even though it did not fall back to the situation in 1979, so they defected to the opposition.
This has got really long again, but basically what I am saying is that at the moment, the game simply judges support by how things are in the country now - but it should judge performance on where things have come from - even if things are great now, if they have got worse since the last election, people will not be happy with you. Equally, even if things are bad, if you’ve made them a whole lot better since the previous election, this should reflect well on the party.
I would also say that things like economic downturns and terrorist attacks should probably have a bigger effect, meaning that even if you are doing really well and have great support you cannot consider yourself safe (although they should not have such a large effect as to mean success in the game is largely random). Take the 1980s Tory Government - was the 1992 ERM debacle not one of the main factors in its downfall - it destroyed the reputation that the Tories thrived on of good economic governance. Also, in a similar vein, should terrible policy decisions not have a bigger impact in damaging Governments - look at the poll tax, which was another major element in the end of the Tory Government. I cancelled pensions when I was playing the other day - in real life, I should imagine that this would cause outrage, but in the game it didn’t really make a difference.
The long term playability of Democracy (1 and 2) is I think its most major weakness. I first played Democracy 1 at a friend’s house, and after playing for a few hours, the country was basically a utopia, with 100% of support, etc., and this almost prevented me from buying the game, as I couldn’t see the point in buying a game that only lasted for a few hours. It was also the one thing that I really hoped had been improved in Democracy 2, but unfortunately (and I’ve not played it much yet), it doesn’t seem to be so. Although they are difficult at first, once you have played a few terms and got support over 50%, you can never really fail.