Just noticed that some countries begin with minimal party popularity (for instance in Germany at about 2%) I think that is not right, since it is almost impossible to win first election (I managed to do it few times, but still it is pretty hard). That screen was taken at the beggining of the game as Germany:
Popularity is how many voters have approval above 50%.
Its almost the same that happened in Democracy 3, so i dont think is a bug, but a design decision.
About being almost impossible to win first election, is not true. keep playing, you will start to see that you MUST be really strategic if your policies, and manipulate your population before you can go to you desired plans.
I have the same problem as Canada. It is extremely difficult to get the first re-election. How did somebody who has 2% support take office?
I think this game needs a brief pre-game, where you determine what platform you campaigned on to win. This could address another issue where half my cabinet hate me at game start because their sympathies are a random draw. If I did a brief campaign before game start, that could be used to determine what sympathies my starting ministers should have.