So, you want to start a region. Well, you have quite a difficult task before you, my friend. One of the things you will have to think about and design is a regional government, especially if you are a Gameplay focused region. But fret not! You have found NJ's Helpful Guide to Creating a Regional Government; we will cover tips for designing different types of government, problems with each, and how best to tailor your regional government to your regional goals. If you have questions about regional government or about this guide, feel free to get in contact with me on Discord at Lies Kryos#1734.
There are two main types of regional governments used in NationStates. We will cover them in the paragraphs below. Keep in mind these are not the only types of government, but they are certainly the most prevalent and solid.
Authoritarian Meritocracy: This type of government is pretty common in newer regions that have fewer members and low activity. Authoritarian Meritocracy, which we will comfortably shorten to AuthoMerit, comes the most naturally to the game mechanics. As the founder, in 99.99% of regions, retains executive authority and all powers, AuthoMerit is the logical choice. In this system, the leadership, generally the founder(s)*, choose members of the region to appoint to various positions. What I have found in many of these AuthoMerit governments is that there are far fewer positions and more active and involved founders. For instance, in Thegye, there are two main positions that are established by the regional constitution, which are permitted to appoint smaller departments under them. Functionally, these systems rely on active founder(s)* or delegates to make appointments. AuthoMerits generally have little change in government over short periods of time and have higher stability, but can suffer from lower governmental participation. This would be a good choice for smaller, newer regions looking for stability, security, and streamlining or older regions with a powerful founder/delegate position.
Democracy: Unfortunately, for the purposes of this guide, I am forced to lump a huge, varied, and colorful system of government into a single paragraph. Democracy is another one of the most common governmental systems in the game, mainly because of its prevalence in the real world. Democracies involve electing some form of government, be it a parliamentary government or a presidential government. I will explain the difference below. First, we have to talk about the game mechanics behind democracy. Democracy and rights and all that is, basically, an illusion that is not supported by the power of the people, but instead insured by the power of the founder or delegate. In general, democracy is a gift given by the real power in the region, the founder. Often, founders will retain powers in these democracies, creating constitutional monarchies or dictatorships, one of the more common iterations of NS democracy. There are also systems that include representative democracy, but I will cover my opinion and thoughts about that in further detail below. This style would be good for a strong Gameplay orientated region or one that is looking to have a higher government participation rate. This would be a good option for medium to large regions with high activity and interest but would be an abysmal choice for new regions with fewer members unless very carefully designed.
Unorthodox Styles: Because I couldn't leave out some of the crazier styles without angering someone, so I will give them a shout out. Since there are a plethora of "unique" styles (I use quotation marks there to denote that most systems are just odd iterations of the above two systems), I will cover some interesting ones. One of the most interesting and potentially dangerous is the non-executive founder. Non-exec founders can create an atmosphere of almost total democracy, allowing the delegate to be elected from the ranks of the citizens to become the ultimate power. Should a founder choose this course of action, they will face difficulties and danger at every turn. This system basically turns a region into a GCR or founderless region over time, as the Delegate becomes the real power. Another system is authoritarian democracy, an odd mishmash of the two systems mentioned above. Here, an all-powerful leader is elected from the citizenry to run the region until he is ousted or retires. This often takes place via the delegate position, much like the GCRs. An interesting system that has seen little use outside of roleplay regions is anarchy. Anarchy is where anyone's rules go and the regional government generally is non-existent, small, or very specifically purposed. These governments will generally have the bare bones, such as a delegate, a cartographer, and a surveyor. Other roles may exist, like a foreign affairs officer and an events officer, but generally nothing fancy. A good example of anarchy or near-anarchy is the region The Cape of Good Hope.
Next, we will discuss various styles and ways to create an AuthoMerit government in your region and some ways to counteract the common drawbacks of this system.
Pure AuthoMerit: Some regions will opt for the pure, unadulterated AuthoMerit style. The region lives under the benevolent (or iron) rule of their founder(s)*, who appoint anyone they wish and dismiss those they don't. Meritocracies generally go off of "who can do the best job". Some people will be replaced or removed from certain positions due to being less than helpful or going inactive. Often, even democratic regions will have elements of this meritocracy. In this system, anyone can rise to power if they prove themselves to be a diligent or trustworthy worker. If someone has outlived their time in office, they will be removed or asked to step down. Sometimes these systems will break due to humans being humans. Someone might receive a job simply because the leader likes them better or is friends with them. It is best to, as a leader, try to objectively pick the most qualified individual and not make premature promises.
Devolved AuthoMerit: In some cases, the founder will appoint a person to serve as the absolute authority in the region, usually a veteran citizen or a powerful politician. These persons, whom we shall call Governors for simplicity of identification, have founder-like powers. The Governor may appoint other officials to serve under him and create a secondary and tertiary devolved system. These can be incredibly efficient and sophisticated systems, with the simpler the system, the more efficient it becomes. Sometimes, these systems can be incredibly competitive, making moving up in them just as difficult. To counteract this, the founder could impose an unofficial time limit on the term of a Governor, allowing bad leaders to be removed, but also not forcing out good leaders with term limits. This would be a good choice for a larger region where a single founder would be unable to control everything or even for a founder attempting to step back from active foundership.
Heriditary AuthoMerit: This is an interesting and somewhat unorthodox system of AuthoMerit, involving monarchies or a similar system. Often with these systems, the power system looks similar to the Devolved AuthoMerit, but instead of the founder appointing the person, the previous Governor, whom we shall name the Prince for this example, appoints a successor to become Prince after their term is up, they retire, or they die in-character. These systems will often rely on roleplay to tie into the government system, creating an interesting GP and RP hybrid system. An example of this system is The Land of Kings and Emperors. This is effective for larger regions hoping to replicate the imperial systems of old. Few successful regions of this style still exist in NS, as the democratic and AuthoMerit systems have dominated the game's political landscape.
Now, we will move on to the democratic styles of government. These are varied more so than the AuthoMerit styles, so bear with me as I cover some of the most common or logical systems. If you would like some tips on specific styles of government and how to set them up, feel free to get in contact with me.
Basic Democracy: This is pretty simple. These kinds of democracy have varying names for positions and such, but I will be using Prime Minister as the head of government and various Ministers to reflect other departments. In this type of democracy, the citizens have elections for a Prime Minister, who is generally accompanied by two Ministers, one for internal and one for external affairs. Terms may vary from one month to one quarter to even a year. These are the easiest types to design and require minimal effort. They are also versatile, as you may add and subtract positions based on necessity. In addition, these systems also have direct democracy on laws and amendments, allowing all citizens to participate in voting. This is the most efficient democratic system for regions of all sizes and activity levels, allowing for as few as three members or as many as ten or fifteen. A drawback is often that the same people will run for the same positions. As they are well-known, experienced, and qualified, they are generally reelected, creating a meritocracy-by-majority. This may not be a bad thing, but it could lead to issues down the road. There are two solutions to this problem: term limits, which I will cover in a Pro Tip later, and simply waiting for the official to grow tired, bored, or satisfied with the work they are doing and simply retire of their own volition. This last is most certainly the best system in my opinion, as it allows good leaders to continue in positions as long as they like.
Representative Democracy: In this system, we find something I personally despise and dislike very much in the context of NationStates, but I will attempt to stay unbiased for the sake of this guide and limit my opinion to the Pro Tip below this paragraph. Representative democracies involve the election of citizens to a legislative body, which I will call the Senate. The Senate will then write, propose, and pass regional laws or amendments or both. There are two popular systems: unary and binary. The unary system involves a single body within the Senate, which does all the voting and passing of laws. In the binary system, there are two bodies within the Senate, which we will call the Upper and the Lower. The Upper Senate generally is non-proportional, being a fixed set of citizens predetermined by the law. The Lower Senate is generally proportional, having a number of seats proportional to the population. Generally, I find a 1:30 or a 1:50 ratio. These Senates act the same, but usually, the Upper Senate will have more constitutional power to break ties or appoint officials. Within this system, there are two more systems that are primarily used, which we will call the presidential system and the parliamentary system. The presidential system would see the Prime Minister and the rest of his cabinet elected separately from the rest of the government and acting independently of the Senate. The parliamentary system involves electing the Prime Minister from the Senate and allowing him to create a cabinet from members of the Senate. The parlimentary system works only if you have a large Senate and, by extension, a large and active region. Some of the only places I could see successfully pulling this off are the GCRs or huge UCRs. The presidential system could work in medium to large regions, but the likelihood of full effectivity, especially with a binary system, is low. There are some major drawbacks to this system. Not only will you have the issue of recycling leaders and politicians, but you also have to deal with inactivity completely stalling the entire system. If more than two people are inactive in this system, most regions will have a deadlocked Senate and will have to go through long, tedious, and time-wasting special elections. An advantage would be providing a way for citizens to be involved in the government and learn, but also have a way to propose new laws and amendments that could help the region. Of all the styles and systems mentioned today, this is the least likely and the most difficult to successfully achieve, even in larger regions.
Pro Tip: Representative democracies in NationStates have never, do not, and will never work as intended. Before you go ranting off about systems you've seen that do work, let me explain. Representative democracies are intended to create a system where the people's voices are proportionally heard. This only works when you have your region split into sections where each section elects a representative. Not only is this incredibly difficult and implausible, but it will also end up a disastrous failure, as most regions will only see a 10-15% voting rate. If you say that representative democracy can just be voted from the region as a whole, sure. But then you will have the recycling government issues coupled with the inactivity issues. More than a few times, I have seen people show up, run for a position in the government, and then clock out for the rest of the term. This happens more often than not in the representative system and can ruin it entirely. In addition to this, bureaucracy will immediately form. I could go on and on about this point, but I believe that I have made it. Moving right along!
Authoritarian Democracy: This plays into the non-exec founder system but can be adapted to an executive founder system with little issue. In this system, a single person is an election, either via the WAD position or just as a normal citizen, to become, essentially, a Governor, but elected. We will call this person a Lord Protector. The Lord Protector usually will act as a Governor would, just keeping in mind that he has constituents to answer to. It is a wise idea for the founder to hold elections at set periods to keep the Lord Protector accountable. This provides the surety and simplicity of the Devolved AuthoMerit while still having a democratic system. In practice, the Lord Protector changes hands far more often as the will of the people comes and goes. The constitution of an Authoritarian Democracy is generally far more structured and rigid than that of an AuthoMerit, usually defining how many and what kind of officials the Lord Protector can appoint and having term periods or even limits. One drawback of this system is obvious: that your Authoritarian Democracy could quickly and rapidly devolve into a Devolved AuthoMerit, especially in founderless regions or where the founder is no longer active. Generally, a founder would want to make sure that the constitution is enforced to the letter. Being lax in this kind of system will see it collapse.
Consitutional Monarchy: This is another interesting system where some authoritarian themes will enter into the picture. A constitutional monarchy allows for autocracy to exist within a democratic system. This usually looks like having an all-powerful Monarch as the head of state and an elected head of government, the Prime Minister. The Monarch will generally have powers that cover the entire spectrum of the region, allowing him to act on any part of it. He might also play a role as the head of the regional military, head of the Senate (should one exist), or has someone who simply is there to do things like recruit, promote the region, or other things that support the government. The Monarch can be as powerful or as weak as he likes. The good thing about this system is it allows the founder to sit back and relax while also allowing him to take part in regional affairs if he should so desire. Often, Monarchs would be good persons to have run elections or other non-partisan things that require oversight. This system has much the same issues as a basic democracy and runs off of many of the same principles. Keep in mind that Monarchs may even be the Delegate in some regions, giving it a Hereditary AuthoMerit feel while still having democracy.
Pro Tip: There is something else I wish to cover in short. Stylistically, your region should have a unique feel and style to other regions and your government plays a very heavy part in this. For instance, the region Osiris is an Egypt themed region, having a "Pharoah" and other such names for their officials. In your region, your government style should be heavily based and drawn from your regional theme. If you don't have a regional theme, you should. If your region is not unique from others, you are not going to catch any new recruits or other region's attention. Another point to make is copying real-world themes. If your region takes the governmental system of the United States as its theme, you will come across and generic, boring, and unimaginative. Historic real-world systems, for some reason, do not suffer from this same drawback.
Citizenship is a question that both AuthoMerit and Democratic regional governments must answer. Citizenship is defined, for our purpose, as a player within a region who is granted special rights and privileges based on their citizenship. The way this citizenship is given is different and there are two styles we will discuss below: jus sanguinis and jus soli. Yes, I am stealing real-world geopolitical terms for this internet game. Sue me.
Jus Soli: Jus soli (Latin for "right of soil") citizenship is granted to anyone born within the confines of a country. In the context of NationStates, jus soli citizenship is extended to all regional members within a region for as long as they are members of that region. Jus soli is, by far, the simplest version of citizenship and will allow you to have more open democratic systems like the Basic Democracy. Jus soli will also open up opportunities for all members of your region, allowing you to have more involvement, more activity, and more efficiency. Jus soli also allows you to simply and easily infer rights upon your residents, like freedom of speech. Most newer players will also prefer this type of citizenship, allowing them to jump in and immediately become full and active members of the region.
Jus Sanguinis: Jus sanguinis (Latin for "right of blood") citizenship is granted through the bloodline of the parents, usually the mother, meaning the citizenship of a parent transfers to the child. In the context of NationStates, jus sanguinis citizenship is the kind that requires you to apply or have certain requirements. For instance, some regions might require you to fill out an extensive citizenship application on their forum. In some cases, I have found citizenship forms to be more extensive and complicated than embassy applications. Other regions will require you to have membership in the World Assembly and endorse their delegate. These systems have their advantages (mostly for Democratic systems) and disadvantages. One advantage is simply reducing the number of voting persons to allow you to more finely control those who are voting for members of the government and on amendments or laws. This also allows you to get an accurate count of the more dedicated and active members of your region. The disadvantages, in my humble opinion, are massive comparatively. Many new recruits or players will find citizenship applications confusing and difficult, making retention harder. Ju sanguinis citizenship will also come with the drawbacks of not having enough citizens in smaller communities or having too many citizens and not being able to easily keep track of them in larger ones. There are various advantages and drawbacks.
Overall, I would lean more towards jus soli citizenship for smaller regions and jus sanguinis citizenship for larger ones. In general, however, jus soli will work the best for all regions of all sizes and activity rates.
What's with those asterisks, NJ? Well, good question. You'll notice I added an "s" to the end of founder in the earlier parts of this guide. This is intentional. I would like to make the point that dual or multi-foundership is one of the best ways to found a region. Regional communities are incredibly difficult to create and maintain; having multiple people there to assist and support each other in the creation and building of a region will not only benefit the founders, but also the region. I seem to see an upward trend in multi-founder regions, especially in successful new regions.
Term Limits: Ah, right, term limits. I couldn't find a comfortable place to put this, so I'll stick it here at the end. Term limits are a confusing subject and I often find my self waffling back and forth about them. I will briefly discuss the advantages and disadvantages to both. Advantages: Some of the advantages include allowing for a fresh set of government members to cycle through the government at intervals. It keeps powerful leaders from becoming too powerful and taking over the region, especially in democratic style regions. Term limits would also fit very well in systems like the Authoritarian Democracy. Those are the main ones, at least. Disadvantages: The disadvantages are extensive, but I will only cover the important ones. Term limits push good leaders out of the government prematurely. Having a set number of times a leader can lead is disruptive to cohesion and can actually cause a lot more harm than good. If a leader is about to be pushed out of government, he may find it hard to finish out his term strong, cease working on projects and operations, or even make it very difficult for the next leader to do his job, especially with political parties. In the end, the decision is yours and you will need to weigh them together.
Political Parties: Well, then. We have arrived at the inevitable topic of political parties. I will, in short, cover this topic and try not to get in too complicated. Political parties oftentimes fail to accomplish the goal that was set for them. Parties, especially in the Basic Democracy system, tend to gravitate to a single-party system within a few terms. This is because, usually, parties have little to be polarized about and there are too few active members. Political parties would be better suited to a huge, highly active region with a Democratic System. Parties would thrive in a Representative Democracy system, though we have already discussed that. Part of why political parties don't tend to work is mainly because they are built around the legislative systems, which simply do not work in NationStates. However, I would never say to prohibit them or their growth. But, equally, I would warn against weaving them into the system as I have seen done in some regions.
Alright then! That pretty much ends the topic of creating a regional government! There are more complicated and more intricate steps and options you can add to your system, but those will come naturally over time. If you are looking on how to create a constitution that will fit your expectations, I would highly suggest you read Prybourne's How to Write a Basic Constitution: A Beginner's Guide. Of course, if you have any questions about this guide or about NationStates in general, feel free to reach out to me on Discord at Lies Kryos#1734. And, if you have found this guide helpful, I would greatly appreciate an upvote.
Created by New Jaedonstan. Do not reproduce, in whole or in part, without express permission.