After a couple weeks vacation, we’ve now returned to our usual weekly dev diary schedule! Today we will be diving deeper into Victoria’s politics to talk about Laws. Legal reform in your country creates different political, economic, and social conditions for your Pops, which over time changes the fabric of your society. This change can be slow and incremental, or fast and revolutionary - sometimes literally.
There are three major categories of Laws with seven sub-categories in each, which themselves contain up to half a dozen specific Law options. As always everything here is being heavily iterated upon, including these sub-categories, so the laws you see at release will not exactly match what we’re telling you here!
These Laws determine who is in control of different aspects of your country. It includes fundamental Governance Principles such as Monarchy and Parliamentary Republic, which determine who your Head of State is and what kind of powers they wield. Distribution of Power ranges from Autocracy and Oligarchy through various extensions of the voting franchise all the way to Universal Suffrage. Citizenship and Church and State Laws govern which Pops suffer legal discrimination in your country due to their culture or religion. The principles on which your Bureaucracy is run - such as hereditary or elected positions for bureaucrats - determine how expensive it is to keep track of each citizen and how much Institutions cost to run, but also directly benefit some groups over others. Conscription lets you raise a part of your civilian workforce as soldiers in times of war, and Internal Security governs how the Home Affairs anti-insurgent Institution works.
This set of Laws define where your treasury’s money comes from and how it can be spent. Your Economic System is crucial - this governs whether your country operates on principles of Mercantilism, Isolationism, or Free Trade, among others. Income Tax determines which Pops should be taxed and what range of tax burden is appropriate. No Income Tax at all is of course an option, and legislation to such effect will make some Pops both rich and happy! Poll Taxation, or levying a fixed tax per head, is another option primarily used in less industrialized societies. (There are other avenues of taxation as well, but these are the ones driven by legislation.) Finally, you can choose what form the Institutions of Colonization, Policing, Education System, and Health System will take in your country. For example, you can keep government spending under control by instituting Charity Hospitals, which have limited effect and boost the power of the clergy, or you could pass a Public Health Insurance Law which is costlier but can have a greater impact on the health of the masses.
Enshrining the rights of the individual was a hallmark of the era. These Laws define how your Pops are treated and what manner of control you can enforce over their lives. Free Speech determines the degree of control you can enforce over your Interest Groups but restrictive rights throttle the spread of innovation. The Labor Rights Laws include outlawing serfdom, but extends all the way to establishing a Workplace Safety Institution to reduce the number of people literally crushed in the jaws of industry. Children’s Rights and the Rights of Women have a number of effects such as shifting the Workforce/Dependent demographics, affecting Dependent income, and extending the franchise. Welfare ensures the poor and disabled in your society are taken care of. Migration Laws can be used to influence Pop migration. Slavery Laws determine the legal status of owning people in your country. More details on that subject in a future dev diary.
Our aim is to set all countries up with the best fitting Laws compared to what they actually had in 1836. This will vary wildly between countries, and will greatly influence what sorts of conditions and strategies are available to you at the start of the game. For example, the USA starts with Total Separation of Church and State, ensuring no Pops suffer legal discrimination on account of their religion, while Sardinia-Piedmont doesn’t take kindly to non-Catholic Pops. This will affect Pops who live in the country currently, but will also limit which Pops might migrate there - few Pops would make it their preference to move to a country where they’re mistreated by law.
As a result of these starting Laws Sardinia-Piedmont might have to look towards colonization or conquest if they start to run out of their native workforce, while North America is likely to get regular migration waves to help expand the frontier. By connecting these effects to starting Laws, many historically appropriate and recognizable aspects and behaviors of Victorian-era nations - such as their attractiveness to immigrants - are connected to a tangible property (e.g. poor or oppressed Pops emigrating to the USA both because of its demand for workforce and also its liberal Laws) rather than being arbitrarily encoded into the very fabric of the nation itself, the approach previous Victoria games took to encourage history in the a familiar direction.
However, these starting Laws are far from set in stone! You might want to reform your Laws to better suit the direction your society is going - for example, you might want to transition your Bureaucracy from a system of Appointees to Elected Bureaucrats in order to more effectively provide services from Government Institutions to all your incorporated territories (or maybe just because you want to disempower the otherwise powerful Intelligentsia.) Or your country’s Agrarian economy has plateaued on account of increased reliance on imports of manufactured goods, and you want to change course to the exciting opportunities provided by a Free Trade policy.
The inverse is also true. Introduce a bill to abolish the Monarchy in Great Britain and see how the Landed Gentry feel about that.
That is all for me this week! In this dev diary I mentioned Institutions a number of times, and next Thursday I will be back with more details on this powerful society-shaping tool. Until then!