Suggestion: Saltier Socialists

(Originally posted this in the generic “Democracy 4” sub-forum. Reposting to move it to Alpha Feedback, as well as go into more detail. For a tl;dr, read only the bold text)

Heya Democracy community. I just created this account, but I’m a longtime player of Democracy 3 and D3: Africa, and I’ve been following the game on Twitter (same username and avatar).

This suggestion is based on my experience playing the D3 games, and it appears to be playing out the same in D4 based on the pre-alpha Let’s Plays I’ve seen.

Something I noticed is that it is super easy to keep Socialists happy. Now, I speak from my own personal experience as someone who runs in socialist circles when I say that the ease with which the player can appease in-game socialists does not reflect reality on the ground. At least in the US and UK, the comrades are livid with the status quo. Meanwhile, in-game, Socialist mood is in the green.

Here is my proposal: Rebalance Socialist happiness to make it easier to piss them off, and bring it more closely in line with real life socialist priorities.

One easy way of doing this is to recalibrate the effect various public services have on Socialist happiness. Take, for example, the State Health Service policy, which I am guessing is based off the British NHS. A fully funded State Health Service would make Socialists happy (doubly so, as it also eradicates Private Healthcare). But, with the slider at and below a certain point (let’s say below All Major Operations), the bar goes from increasing the mood to decreasing it. And Socialists should be outraged if the slider goes low enough to generate income. Bottom line: If a public service (NHS, state pensions, schools, etc) is either underfunded or run for-profit, Socialists should be unhappy about it.

Another suggestion is to make Trade Union membership affect Socialist happiness. Unionizing workplaces is a huge priority for us, so it’d make sense that a nation with a low rate of unionization would make Socialist voters unhappy. Alternatively, buffing the impact of the Labor Laws policy on Socialist happiness could work.

A few other policies that could anger Socialists (if they don’t already at this point in the Alpha):

-National Business Council: Socialists would see this as the bourgeoisie using the power of the state for their own benefit.

-Enterprise Investment Scheme: Ditto.

-Minimum Wage when set too low: Socialists want a minimum wage that meets basic cost of living for all citizens. Just having a token minimum shouldn’t be enough to please Socialist voters.

-Any state-owned industry when set to generate income: An extension to my first suggestion for effect tweaks. The reason that some real-life socialists support nationalizing certain industries is because they believe that they are public goods that ought to be provided to everyone at little or no cost, and therefore are not supposed to be profitable. When the state runs it with the intent to generate profit like a privately-owned company would, many socialists will consider that “state capitalism,” and oppose it accordingly.

-Government policies that promote private space exploration, as well as the industry’s size: To quote Tim Curry in his Command and Conquer appearance, space is “the one place that hasn’t been corrupted by capitalism.” I know Cliffski loves SpaceX and Elon Musk, but you’ll not find many socialist fans of either.

Finally, the Socialist voters should be more militant than Liberal voters (that is, more likely to try to assassinate the player). In Democracy 3, I only ever got threatened by Liberals and Capitalists (and Women in D3: Africa). I want to see Red Guard Militias posing an actual threat (provided Socialist membership is high enough in the played country).


Also, it would be nice to see a special Cooperative Industry, and some policies that help encourage it, since most modern socialists see that as the way out of capitalism. The notion that all socialists want is nationalization of industry is a rather outdated one. Sure some do, and most still agree with it for certain major industries, but that is not their primary goal.


Very true. There’s a lot of diversity of opinion among the various strands of the economic left, particularly on the issue of state-owned companies. It’d be cool to see policies supporting cooperative industry put in. I wanted to focus on the policies and effects already in the game as a starting point.


So if you implement new socialist policy at low level, it will annoy socialists even though it wasn’t here before.
Private prisons and few others annoy voter groups if they are below/above certain point.
Similarly retired and poor should be hard to please, and starting support could be middling.
For example private pensions shouldn’t make retired happy - its just their money.

Complacency could be much harsher and faster, and work in both ways.


Yup, raxo222 is right, in that having a policy that angers socialists at a low level is problematic, for technical reasons, although I think there is a decent argument to be made that socialists might be angry at the idea of a nationalised industry run at a profit… but then surely that profit would be spent on some other public service… so would be fine? hmmmm.

We do collect stats on how happy each group is, on average, at each election. Currently socialists sit at +41.24% (on a -100 to +100 scale), which is pretty high, beaten only by state employees, environmentalists and the retired… so there is an argument to be made that it is a bit too easy to make socialists happy right now. I will look into it!


Lower socialist happiness from taxes maybe.
Especially ones that affect young, retired, poor and partly middle income

The other voter groups tend not to be 100% rational in what they want, I don’t see why socialists should be an exception.

1 Like

On steam someone said that game is biased against each voter group equally, as game makes a bit of fun of everyone :stuck_out_tongue:

1 Like

You know, I do actually wonder where Cliffski is on soc/cap lib/con axis.

I do think there is a little bit of an economic leftward slant to the game, but Cliff is aware of it and tries to compensate for it.

Edit: D3 did manage to avoid the implicit socialist lean a lot of games get simply by how their mechanics work. The mechanics for private services differ from the usual “the player has to build everything” model, and the more abstract economics avoid the “spherical workers of uniform density” that tends to plague games with more direct simulation of the economy.

1 Like

Do socialists start out neutral if no policies are implemented? I think they should start of at 0 if no socialist polices are implemented. Balance the game so that if all policies that influence socialists are implemented they are near 100 but if none of them are they are at zero and fomenting a communist rebellion.

Yup, raxo222 is right, in that having a policy that angers socialists at a low level is problematic, for technical reasons, although I think there is a decent argument to be made that socialists might be angry at the idea of a nationalised industry run at a profit… but then surely that profit would be spent on some other public service… so would be fine? hmmmm.

If there’s technical obstacles, then that’s alright. I didn’t know whether the under-the-hood mechanics would be similar to D3’s, and I know some mods did some really fancy stuff when changing slider effects (Ex:There’s one D3 mod that introduced a custom Situation called Sexism. Legalized Prostitution would reduce Sexism until about a third of the way along the slider moving right, then would reverse course and increase it as prostitution became increasingly unregulated).

As for whether profiting off a state industry would be reinvested in other public services, it’s a complicated issue in real life and really depends both how the state is using the money, and which kind of leftist one is talking to.

So perhaps it would be simpler to nerf Socialist happiness at some of the more mundane, universally-expected socialistic policies like State Pensions (I’ve found in D3 that cutting State Pensions was a good way to save money without any real consequences from Socialist or Retired voters, so long as it remained active). Additionally or alternatively, buff the impact of Labor Laws and/or Private Healthcare/Education on Socialist (un)happiness.

Cliff is a self described liberal capitalist environmentalist. I’d be inclined to agree with him, but I’d also say he actually overcompensates, or at least the game model right now isn’t as friendly to market solutions as it is planned ones (simply because market solutions tend to require sim values as well as policies)

I think a factor in that is what I’d call “pro-policy bias”. There are basically no policies in D3/4 that just downright suck. Thus, things like nationalization actually work.

actually i find the game is very easy if i cancel all the socialized policies, particularly health care and public pensions. You have so much money for tech subsidies and paying down the debt and people are happy with the private versions.

I like the phrase ‘pro-policy bias’, as it does sum up a real challenge in the game design for democracy 4. In theory, voters will buy private schooling, pensions and healthcare etc automaticlaly, unless public versions are available, so if you cut a public service, but also cut taxes the same amount, then in theory, the voter is equally happy, as they have less services, but they have the money to spend on the private versions…

…in practice, balancing this is extremely hard. It also means asking which of the following two principles is stronger, or more relevant in peoples opinions:

  1. State services have huge economies of scale, so are therefore better value for the same money
  2. Private services have to compete with each other to get customers, so are therefore better value for the same money

There is also the question of whether ‘natural monopolies’ are more cost efficient in state hands. Arguably healthcare is not one, but railways/energy is… but even thats pretty arguable!


I doubt that’s true in practice for literally anything. For some stuff the private sector is more efficient at delivering satisfactory results. And for some stuff incentives inherently are so perverse that it’s near impossible to “do it right” without going public. Relatively few things, I’d imagine, are of the sort where both can be equally efficient (in terms of actual end-consumer satisfaction).

This is true as long as there actually is sufficient competition. Which, in a hypothetically entirely unregulated market, there eventually won’t be, as a handful of companies amass more and more resources and engage in deeply anti-competitive tactics, outright buying out competition or laying roadblocks in the way that have nothing at all to do with offering better products and/or services to consumers.
I feel like that ought to be a situation of sorts. It’s definitely a problem that exists today, especially in the US but also in other places.


Indeed, maybe ‘competition law’ should be a thing? you could have a stronger or weaker legal position on companies abusing monopoly power…

1 Like

That’d certainly be a start though it seems really generic. I know too little about this but I suspect what anti-monopoly laws look like, and what their actual effects might be, can vary wildly.

Conveniently, I actually talked about this earlier:


I feel like nationalized industries operate under different rules. They can make 100% of their production a loss if they so choose. The behavior isn’t quite like that of private monopolies. Although yes, it totally means companies are more consolidated.

Also punitive taxes on Superstores, perhaps? Although there’s no reason why chains can’t be small stores so I guess it might be debatable.

This is great although the problem there is that it’d presumably be really freaking hard to get rid of oligarchs once you have that situation, and if I understand you right, that’s not the case here. It’d just simply take a transition time where you have an oligarchy-like situation that fades out without further changes. Unless I’m missing something.

That’s a very interesting point!