Even with the 'nerfed minors' they can still go on to greatness;
However I generally do consider many of the Minors to be totally underpowered, either in manpower, crippled by techs that they should have/leadership avalible or industry that they should have. There are a good deal of mods that take steps to rectify these issues, which has led to me playing a lot more modded games than vanilla games over the last year, and even helpped spured me to do research on a few nations to try and get the background right. Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Mexico, Peru, Thailand and India namely.
The really sad thing is, that via the Lua files you can nerf the AI ministers to never expand if you don't want them to by having them stay on industrilisation paths etc. for the vast majority of the game, which means there is no need to 'nerf the minors' to get the game to play out history right 9 times our of 10.
Really it smacks a bit of laziness that nobody went round and did this, instead they just activated; "Global Nerf, Nazi Wank."