HistoryDude

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It’s good that Poland is becoming more democratic, which should tone nationalism down a little bit.

Wow. The Papal State is huge.

Of course, excluding Tatars from representation may yet lead to a Tatar revolution. An independent Tartaria is a likely choice if the enemies of Poland win...
 

Cromwell

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A solid first gameplay update, I liked the positive first note with the gold rush in Grigoria and am anticipating trouble before long with the Brusilov line! No doubt his name will be cursed for generations east of of the line. Poland's Sykes-Picot moment perhaps?
 

Ebanu8

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Hoping we can actually expand into Africa and Israel's territories.
 

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My goodness, picturing the Papacy as an imperial power in its own right is a scary thought. I guess we'll finally find out the answer to the old question of just how many divisions the Pope has...
 
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PaleoGamer86

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I hope that there's a bunch of consolidation in the New World, India, etc. A nation owning lots of little disparate enclaves was fine in theory back when this was a feudal world, but as history marches forward that is going to make less and less sense as countries transition into nation-states (or at least more unified Empires). I really wish there was some kind of mechanic in Paradox games that discouraged the AI from doing that/ encouraged the AI to maintain a solid and unified border- think about how beautiful the map would be in all those games. Colonial empires wouldn't always be messes by the end of the game!

Although, I have to say, that unified Australasia is a gift.

Edit: Mostly unified Australasia :p (Just checked the map again). We can do without Kaiserwilhelmsland though, that's okay.
 
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Tommy4ever

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1839-1849 – The Constitutional Regime

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The Prime Minister’s Slavophile allies rode to a landslide victory in the inaugural Duma elections in 1840 with 313 of 501 seats. With twice as many votes as their liberal Zapadnik rivals and three times as many as the Israelites – the Slavophiles came close to sweeping the board the constituencies of the Judaeo-Russian heartland. Indeed, the second and third largest parliamentary groupings were the loosely organised and ideologically diffuse Hindu-Muslim and Christian Blocks – who together won more of a quarter of the chamber.

With the sovereign’s backing and a strong majority in the Duma, Brusilov was free to push forward with his political agenda. One of the first major domestic political debate was over international trade. Throughout the Early Modern era Poland had been confronted with the challenge of living next to a European neighbour whose economies were far more efficient than her own, leading to cheaper and higher quality imports crowding out domestic production. At times the Poles had introduced strict restrictions, at others they had allowed the trade to flow. The ongoing industrial and agricultural revolutions of Central Europe were bringing these questions to the fore once more. The government’s solution was a middle ground. To the disappointment of many within his own Slavophile camp, the premier avoided outright legal barriers and instead introduced a strong tariff on imported goods – providing protection to domestic producers of both agricultural and manufactured goods. The tariff inevitably drove prices higher for consumers – controversially in the case of food stuffs – and became a central cause of complaint among the Zapadnik opposition.

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Another great political battleground that was opening up in the 1840s was schooling. Poland had never had any form of mandatory or state sanctioned schooling, and the Brusilov administration had no intention of changing this. Indeed, the literary rate in the 1841 census stood at just 15.6% - well behind the advance nations of the West. Despite this, millions of Poles across the empire regularly received instruction – mostly through schools run by religious institutions. Seeing the value of a more educated population, the government chose to provide modest financial backing to the efforts of these religious schools – but limited their support to the Jewish denominations. The issue of discriminatory schooling brought together a coalition of the Zapadniks, the Hindu-Mulsim and Christian Blocks in protest, for a time creating a united opposition to the government in the Duma.

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In foreign affairs, Kiev opened up the next stage of the Great Game in 1841 with the Persian War. Fighting had already broken out the previous year between an alliance of the two Hindu-Persian states of Fars and Mervid on one side and the Turko-Mongol Ranikotids, who ruled an empire stretching from the Fergana Valley to Outer Mongolia, on the other. Seeing an opportunity to expand territorially and outflank the Papacy by winning favour among the Ranikotids, Poland declared war on the Persian alliance and deployed two large armies either side of the Caspian Sea.

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Militarily, the Poles were vastly superior to their Persian enemies. Within the first year of the war both the Farsi and Mervid field armies had been completely destroyed and Polish forces were running amok through their territories. After the Mervid capital, the eponymous city of Merv, fell late 1842 and then the Farsi ruled Tehran in early 1843 the Persians surrendered. The Ranikotids annexed a large stretch of Steppeland along the border with Poland, while the Poles gorged themselves on territory on the Iranian Plateau with lands containing more than 3,000,000 people. These annexations included the Armenian lands around Yerevan, the large and prosperous Tabriz region and the lush forests of Gilan and Mazandaran on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea. This southern lurch struck a warn towards Rome and led to some excited imperialists in Kiev imagining a future in which Poland projected power across the oceans from ports in the Persian Gulf.

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It is notable that in the mid-1840s some of the first signs of the modern industrial world were beginning to appear in Poland. In 1843 the empire’s very first railway was opened by a group of Ashkenazi investors, who had seen firsthand the impact the new technology was beginning to have across the border in the German lands. At first, the new invention appeared to have little practical value – yet in the second half the century, the power of the locomotive would eventually utterly transform Polish life. Elsewhere, there were a few other modest signs of industrialisation – with small workshops on factory lines opening up in Kiev, Minsk, Moscow, Krakow and Lvov by the end of the decade. While still a tiny part of the wider economy, they were likewise portends of a new world.

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In the second Duma election held in 1844 the Slavophiles held on to their majority, despite suffering notable losses to the Zapadniks. The liberals had lost many seats by narrow margins in 1840 and managed to more than double their parliamentary representation on just a modest swing – gaining seats from the Slavophiles and Israelites as well as the Christian Block. The election was notable for a sizeable drop in turnout, with the excitement of the first election fading after just a single cycle. The culture of electioneering in 1840s Poland was incredibly staid, with the very idea of public campaigning being regarded as unseemly and ungentlemanly. Instead, candidates most made stale pronouncements on important issues and the government that would make clear whether they regarded themselves as a Slavophile, a Zapadnik or an Israelite, and retire back to their estates to await the returns. It would take another decade until any sort of competitive political culture seeped its way into the country.

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Loss of ground at the 1844 polls contributed to a growing weight of pressure on Prime Minister Brusilov, that would combine with the ascension of a new Tsar and, unexpectedly, the plight of the Roma to bring down his administration. The peculiar institution of Gypsy slavery in Moldavian, where 200,000 lay in chains by the 1840s, had always been viewed as unusual and somewhat barbaric through the rest of the empire. Yet the publication of a number of lured tales grinding oppression, physical and sexual violence and all manner of abuses by liberal authors who had travelled to Moldavia in an effort to expose the truth in the early 1840s caused a sensation. The Prime Minister had been personally moved by these stories, and after investigating the situation himself came to the conclusion that slavery was abominable and un-Jewish. As such, he began to seek support for its outright abolition. Moldavia was dominated by the Slavophiles, and its parliamentary deputies had many allies on the government benches. The Moldavians could also rely on other sympathisers who, following the autonomous philosophies at the heart of Slavophilism, were hostile to the idea of state intervention in local affairs and any disruption to the social order. By backing abolition, Brusilov was opening up a fissure among the Slavophiles.

The situation was made more dire for the Prime Minister by the death of Vasiliy IV, his long-term patron, in October 1844 and the succession of his staunchly conservative younger brother Radoslav III. The new Tsar had a personal distaste for Brusilov, whose pretensions to grandeur he loathed, and resented the diminution of monarchical power cause by the creation of the Duma. From the first, he began to butt heads with the premier. When Brusilov proposed putting a vote before the Duma on the issue of Gypsy slavery – something that would undoubtedly split the Slavophile faction down the middle – a cabal of reactionary deputies approached the Tsar and asked for his intervention. This, Radoslav III was only too happy to provide – and in May 1845 he dismissed Poland’s first Prime Minister a decade and a half in post. His replacement would come from the very group of malcontents who brought him down, with Radoslav calling upon Sergei Gaidar, the Prince of Cherson, to lead a new Slavophile administration. An arch-reactionary, Gaidar promised to put the Roma issue back in its box and reunify the Slavophiles around their core philosophies.

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Unfortunately for Gaidar, he would spend his administration lurching from one crisis to another. As he took office, Poland was in the midst of an alarming crisis in its manufacturing. Between 1845 and 1856 Poland’s output of alcoholic drinks dropped by a fifth and failed to recover through to the end of the decade. More concerningly, fell to around 40% of its previous level between 1846 and 1848. These changes ruined hundreds of thousands of artisanal workers across the empire – causing serious unrest in urban areas, as plebeian workers were left jobless. The problem was foreign competition. As the price and quality of European produce had continued to rise, even the previous level of tariffs were no longer able to give domestic producers a sufficient advantage. In response, the Gaidar government ramped up the level of tariffs yet further, ignoring the cries of the horrified cries of the Zapadniks.

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In international affairs, the late 1840s were overshadowed by the Pannonian Crisis. Since the 1820s, Pannonia, a long-term Polish vassal kingdom, had been loosening its dependence on Kiev. When Serbia declared war on Pannonia in 1847 the Polish initially hesitated to become involved. The Pannonians neglected to formally call upon their Polish allies, fearing a renewal of Polish domination should they allow the imperial army to occupy their nation, and the Germans keenly rattled their sabres – threatening war if Poland became directly involved. Despite this, when the Serbia army trundled through Transylvania and menaced Budapest in 1848, the Poles felt they could delay no longer. The might of the Polish imperial army pushed the Serbs back with ease – destroying entire armies at Bacau and Targu Mures. In January 1849, the Serbs abandoned their efforts at conquest and agreed to peace.

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This victory might have spared the Pannonians from Serbian rule, but it condemned them to tightening of Polish control. All the freedoms they had slowly amassed in recent decades evaporated, as the Poles appointed a new government of their liking that featured a large numbers of ministers from the kingdom’s Ashkenazi minority, who naturally had the confidence of the Poles. This regime was hugely unpopular among the Christian majority, and later that year a wave of anti-Polish anger swept the country. The Polish embassy in Budapest was placed under siege, while crowds attacked government buildings and launched pogroms against Jews across the country. The King responded by dismissing the Polish-appointed government, bringing in a new nationalist administration and sending out a desperate plea to Vienna for assistance. Before the Germans were able to put together an effective response, Polish forces in Slovakia had already crossed the border and were bearing down on Budapest. Through a bloody week in June, they crushed the uprising, deposed the upstart King and reinstated the old government. Pannonia was firmly back under the thumb.

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Only a short time after this successful resolution of the Pannonian Crisis, Radoslav III died peacefully to be succeeded by his teenage grandson Nikolai. This passing of the generational baton weakened the Prime Minister’s position. Sergei Gaidar had been Radoslav’s man, and the new sovereign appeared less in tune with his reactionary politics than his predecessor had been. With a new election looming later in the year, Gaidar government appeared to be in serious peril.
 
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Tommy4ever

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Our first elections! If you are wondering how I decided seat totals and vote shares - it wasn't actually made up numbers and was based on the game.

I assumed that the Russians and Jewish people would all vote for the 'national parties', and different portions of various ethnic groups (half of Poles, only a small share of Tatars etc) would also vote for those parties. The remaining portion of minorities are the votes for the two minority Blocks. I'd also make minor adjustments to the Blocks on an election to election just based on the way things are going (the Zapadniks winning some seats of the Christian Block in 1844 for example).

The National party vote shares are based on the in game totals. I then put whatever numbers they had through a weighting system I developed for an old IAAR (the Westminster System in DH in case you are wondering :p) almost a decade ago to simulate FPTP - with a system of thresholds giving a higher weighting to votes over a certain % (allowing big parties to take home the lion's share of seats and small ones to struggle to get more than a handful). Its this weighting system that led to the Zapadniks jumping up in seats in 1844 despite vote shares being largely static. It produces headline figures that feel a lot closer to real FPTP elections.

That line is going to prove a political battleline I think.

I like how the factions are linking back very neatly to the discords of the previous century. That feels very authentic.

And we will see just how big an issue it becomes as we go forward.

I'm glad you felt they developed naturally out of our past history. I tried to make these factions develop naturally towards being genuine political parties as we go forward.

great conversion and great beginning!

i didn't like the brusilov line a bit

papal state must be destroyed!!!

Haha, I thought you might not like it!

And the Papacy is now really our biggest rival. In terms of GPs - at this point the Papacy is number 1 and we and the HRE have been swapping between 2nd and 3rd quite regularly. Amazing how quickly they moved from being a middle to a heavy weight!

Hard to imagine the Brusilov line standing unchallenged.

Thankfully for the regime, there isn't a well developed Tatar national consciousness at the moment to go out there and put forward an effective challenge. But this being the 19th century, how long until Tatar intellectuals start mobolising their millions, or if the Hindu-Muslim Block becomes critical to government formations? Either or both could seriously threaten the status quo.

Oh my god the Papacy is disgusting and must be destroyed

Also, I'm not sure that this Constitution is what Poland needs. Giving power to the aristocracy will probably only serve to delay neccesary reforms like the abolition of serfdom.

The massive enclave with no connection to the sea through Afghanistan and the Punjab is probably the worst part :p. Its just so frustrating they couldn't atleast have one coastal province!

And we can see here already how the Duma prevented the abolition of slavery when the Prime Minister was keen to abolish the institution, but the Duma stood against him.

It’s good that Poland is becoming more democratic, which should tone nationalism down a little bit.

Wow. The Papal State is huge.

Of course, excluding Tatars from representation may yet lead to a Tatar revolution. An independent Tartaria is a likely choice if the enemies of Poland win...

Democracy and nationalism in the 19th century go hand in hand! :p

Indeed, they are such a massive block in the country - a majority across a huge area between the Urals and Volga, that they could conceivably bring the empire down if they rose up as one with outside assistance.

A solid first gameplay update, I liked the positive first note with the gold rush in Grigoria and am anticipating trouble before long with the Brusilov line! No doubt his name will be cursed for generations east of of the line. Poland's Sykes-Picot moment perhaps?

A good chance to start populating North America!

The longer the Brusilov Line sticks around, the more its going to become an ingrained part of politics that will be something whole parties can mobolise for and against. I hope I'm not spoiling too much to hint that its going to be the central issue in multiple elections further ahead ...

Hoping we can actually expand into Africa and Israel's territories.

Well, we've finally made some genuine progress towards your long term ambition of linking up with Israel. A big surge into the Middle East through north-west Persia. Its tough to annex large territories in V2 - but we're getting closer!

My goodness, picturing the Papacy as an imperial power in its own right is a scary thought. I guess we'll finally find out the answer to the old question of just how many divisions the Pope has...

And the answer is hundreds! :eek:

You would wonder how this would shape the entire development of Catholicism. There will certainly be a lot more well developed Christian reasoning behind colonialism in this TL.

I hope that there's a bunch of consolidation in the New World, India, etc. A nation owning lots of little disparate enclaves was fine in theory back when this was a feudal world, but as history marches forward that is going to make less and less sense as countries transition into nation-states (or at least more unified Empires). I really wish there was some kind of mechanic in Paradox games that discouraged the AI from doing that/ encouraged the AI to maintain a solid and unified border- think about how beautiful the map would be in all those games. Colonial empires wouldn't always be messes by the end of the game!

Although, I have to say, that unified Australasia is a gift.

Edit: Mostly unified Australasia :p (Just checked the map again). We can do without Kaiserwilhelmsland though, that's okay.

Having played through the V2 portion, I can tell you there is a bit of consolidation in game, but maybe not as much as you would like :p. When I do my conversion over to DH I do merge a few countries to keep it simple ;).

I do agree that in later games (perhaps V2 era onwards) they should put in some sort of incentive for the AI to have tidying (or at least contiguous) borders, and consolidate things a bit more.

Our colonial empires in Africa in this playthrough don't actually end up that hideous this time you'll be pleased to hear ;).

And that part of New Guinea is Somalian! So New Mogadishu maybe? :p

I can think of a nice simple direct way Poland could "fix" those colonial borders and remove all the chaos...

Haha - well, seeing as how much of a rivalry has already developed with the Papacy, it will be tough for us to avoid any sort of fighting.
 
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Cromwell

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That economic crisis is very worrying, are textiles and booze the two legs the Polish economy stands on?

Persia was an unexpected route for early expansion, I hope you continue to surprise!
 

DensleyBlair

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Will there ever be a timeline where the Russians aren’t dicking about in Budapest? Feels like an historically fated crisis.

Plenty of interest over the last two updates seeing the first stirrings of democracy reach Poland. I enjoy the evolution of the political groups, and the premiership existing a the mercy of the tsar rings nicely true. Good stuff all round.

I then put whatever numbers they had through a weighting system I developed for an old IAAR (the Westminster System in DH in case you are wondering :p) almost a decade ago to simulate FPTP

I’d recognise those spreadsheet screenshots anywhere! Making me feel like old Jo Grimond should get an outing in Echoes round about now…
 

Specialist290

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In every age, in every place, the ambitions of Russia Poland for warm-water ports and control over Central Asia remain the same.

Your description of "staid Polish politics" conjured up a rather amusing mental image of a rather foppish aristocrat coming out to address a crowd from a high balcony, delivering maybe five or six short sentences in a clipped and barely audible monotone, then beating a hasty retreat lest he catch some sort of lower-class malady from prolonged exposure to the "unwashed masses."
 
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HIMDogson

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The Papacy is a paper tiger. I seriously doubt it has anywhere near the global power projection capabilities of the British Empire. It should be no problem for the Poles to occupy everything.
 
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diskoerekto

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The great game begins in Central Asia! We’re also closer to bordering Pope, and inching closer to Israel. Oh I realize I missed playing v2. Elections galore, and there’ll be new parties to bring new fun to the house in the future. :)
 

HistoryDude

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I wouldn't dismiss the Papacy so easily, especially with Poland's handling of Pannonia. If the Papacy is threatened, the HRE might come to their aid... at least against the Poles.

I feel as though an end to slavery will occur soon. It's already divided the nation, and what happens if slaves take things into their own hands? And, if they succeed, why should they kneel to Poland, who didn't aid them?
 

stnylan

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There is much going on here, but I feel the matter of education is going to very thorny for some time yet. It is an area that needs considerable investment, and therefore will be a considerable cause for conflict. Poland cannot rest of her laurels.
 

Cora Giantkiller

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I am very curious how the Christians in Poland think about the Papacy, particularly the nearly six million Catholics.
 

Ebanu8

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Here's to hoping we don't slip back into being outdated with the rest of Europe.
 

Tommy4ever

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1849-1858 – Sex, Lies and Political Parties

1598377625434.png

The 1849 elections provided some temporary respite for the embattled premier. The opposition Zapadniks made some moderate gains, taking seats from all other parties but ultimately failed to place a serious dent in the government majority. Unfortunately for Prime Minister Gaidar, his administration would not last until the next poll, as the empire was afflicted by pestilence, famine and unrest.

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The problems were already brewing before the election as a flue pandemic carried away tens of thousands of lives over the course of 1849 and 1850. Worse was to come as the harvests of 1850 and 1851 proved to be particularly poor – creating localised food shortages through the Volga valley, an area that was overpopulation yet had comparatively unproductive agriculture. The very high levels tariffs that had been implements over the course of the past decade made importing food prohibitively expensive, while there was little to spare within Poland’s internal market. The result was famine among the Tatars of Kazan and Samara.

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Anger at the failure of the Polish state to aid them, and longer-term tensions over systemic anti-Tatar abuses, provoked a large anti-government demonstration in the city of Orsk in Samara province. After clashing with police, this demonstration devolved into a fierce riot that was only put down through the heavy-handed use of military force. With dozens killed and many others beaten or arrested, riots spread throughout the towns and cities of Samara, which had been swollen with desperate peasants who had fled the famine in the countryside. For several bloody months public order in Samara collapsed, with the imperial army being forced to go from town to town restoring order. For a time, the government in Kiev was gripped by the fear that the unrest would spread throughout the empire’s Tatar population, presenting a genuinely revolutionary threat to the empire, but fortunately saw little violence remain largely limited to Samara.

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Vivid descriptions of the violence in Samara spread were spread across the world by foreign correspondents reporting from the region. These had their greatest impact in the Islamic world – and stimulated a growing angst over the oppression being suffered by the tens of millions of Muslims suffering under the rule of violent Christian and Jewish empires in the Papal and Polish empires. In New Andalucia, a slightly later in Australia, Muslim governments responded to this by calling upon the umma to take refugee in the safety of the Islamic states of the New World – where the tired, poor, huddled masses of the Muslim world could find a land of liberty and opportunity. Over the course of the second half of the nineteenth century, millions of Tatars, Arabs and others would seize upon this chance of a better life and make the journey to the Australia and America.

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The Samara Crisis proved to be the end of the Gaidar premiership, as Tsar Nikolai finally lost patience with him and dismissed him from his post. In his stead, he reappointed the wise old head of Mikhail Brusilov, with the instruction to stabilise the situation. Brusilov immediately looked to drop tariffs to a more manageable level, thereby reducing the cost of food. He called for a larger government relief effort for areas affected by food shortages, taking the pointed step of appointed a Tatar, the Beylik of Astrakhan, to manage the government response. With this act of goodwill, a stronger harvest and the passing of the flu pandemic, tensions in the east were diffused.

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Despite the dramatic events of the previous four years, the 1853 elections resulted in almost complete stasis with just six seats changing hands and vote shares remaining almost identical to their 1849 level. While it appeared that Polish politics had remained almost completely frozen in time in the decade and a half since the restoration of the Duma, this election marked the end of an era. It would be the last of the stale contests that typified the early constitutional era in Poland, with future contests witnessing fiery and full-throated political competition across the country.

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Through the mid-1850s, Polish foreign policy was consumed by crisis in the Far East. The poor harvests that had hit the Polish empire in 1849 and 1850 were not limited to her borders, destabilising much of Eurasia. One of the hardest hit areas was the Jin – a Han Chinese state ruling over a large Mongol and Manchu population from the old Ming imperial capital in Beijing. When a large rebellion broke out among the nomadic peoples of the area, the Poles – making use of their own large Mongol population – offered financial and material support, hoping to gain influence in the region and take control of the situation. The Mongol revolt proved far more successful than anyone had expected, and in 1854 a Mongol-Manchu army stormed Beijing like the Great Khans of old, sacking the city and installing themselves as its new masters.

This set off a political crisis. The Xi, horrified at the loss of a proud Chinese city to these barbarians, threatened war and solicited the European powers for support, while the Poles lined up behind their Mongol allies. While the Chinese found sympathy in the West, not least among Poland’s rival who eyed an opportunity to limit their power, the European powers were far more fearful of giving the Poles an opportunity to march deep into the heart of China than they were by the Mongol insurrection in the north. With no one willing to fight alongside them, the Xi were forced to back down and consent to creation of a Polish-aligned Mongol Khanate stretching from Ulaanbaatar to Beijing and Manchuria.

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Having cooled the Samara Crisis, won an election and secured a strong new Asiatic ally without spilling a drop of Polish blood, Brusilov enjoyed a commanding political position by 1856, even as the elder statesman pushed into his mid-70s. Sadly for the Prime Minister, everything would unravel in the course of a single April evening. Despite his advancing years, Mikhail Brusilov remained a man of clear vigour, and regularly frequented a number of brothels in the wealthy districts of Kiev. During one police raid on one of these houses of ill repute, the premier was discovered in a compromising position. Naturally, this was hushed away by the powers that be, yet word of the incident still escaped – and was widely published in one of the capital’s leading newspapers, who disregarded national censorship laws in the name of the scoop of the decade – horrifying and delighting the burgeoning chattering classes in equal measure. For the leader of a government with a strong moral and religious edge, the reputational damage was fatal. Under heavy pressure from his ministerial colleagues, Brusilov stepped down in disgrace in favour of his safe but stuffy deputy Illiya Egorov.

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Economically, the 1850s saw the sprouts of industry begin to take hold in Poland in earnest. The scale of these enterprises shouldn’t be exaggerated. In the 1861 census less than 100,000 industrial workers were recorded, less than half the number of aristocratic landholders eligible to vote in imperial elections. But their economic impact was already being felt. This was most obvious in textiles, a product especially well suited to low skill mass production. In the late 1850s, Polish textile output surged, surpassing the level it had maintained prior to a crash at the end of the previous decade. However, while in the 1840s and before garments had largely been manufactured in small independent workshops – the bulk of clothing being produced in 1860 came from the factories of Kiev, Minsk, Lvov, Moscow and Warsaw, using new machinery and organisational methods. The difference between the textiles sector and an area that had failed to embrace the techniques of mass production – the brewers, distillers and wine growers of the alcohol industry – was marked, with the former experiencing a transformation while the later struggled to compete with cheaper foreign imports, even with the benefit of a national tariff. This period also saw the first emergence of small steel mills around the Central Ukraine and Donbass coal fields, an industry that in future decades would turn much of the country into an industrial hell scape of fire, smog and molten metal.

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Just as its economy began to change, Polish politics were revolutionised. Since the creation of the Duma in 1840, politics had been carried out by loosely organised factions of individuals and elections had been contested without any real focus or energy. This situation was brought to an end in the resplendent halls of an influential liberal gentleman’s club in Kiev in 1856. There, a group of ambitious young Zapadnik deputies, led by the charismatic Boris Zhakov, came together to form the Constitutional Party – the first political party in Polish history. As was inevitably the case among a group of Europhiles, their inspiration came from abroad – where the well-drilled and cohesive political parties of the Holy Roman Empire and the Netherlands fought elections and parliamentary campaigns in a manner unrecognisable to the sleepy political life of Kiev. The new party had a central organisation that would direct funds, strategies and select candidates, a single prime ministerial candidate and leader – Zhakov himself – and a clear set of principles all of its members would have to sign up to: the abolition of Gypsy slavery, the abolition of serfdom, a commitment to free speech and an end to censorship, support for free trade and free markets, and the secularisation of Polish society.

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Political regroupment was not limited to the left, as change came to the right as well. With Slavophile morality under question, and the Constitutionalists presenting a dangerous secularising threat, a group of Rabbis and Israelite politicians came together to form a political organisation of their own – the Agudat Yisrael, or Union of Israel. Agudat acted as an umbrella for a variety of religious organisations across Polish Jewry, encompassing all denominations. Yet, it was broadly based upon three groups. At its core, forming its foot soldiers and largest component, were the Hasidim, but it also included a large hardline Kohenist wing – which enjoyed a significant degree of influence over the High Priesthood in Jerusalem and an Olegite faction that fed off intercommunal hostility between Jewish, and Tatar and Mongols in Muscovy. In this, it was a remarkable achievement of religious unity among the Jewish faithful that had so long squabbled among one another – pointing to that, alone, each group was no longer capable of shaping the nation’s destiny. The Agudat Yisrael committed itself to defending Polish Judaism at all costs.

The formation of these political groupings, and the weakness of the Slavophiles in the aftermath of Brusilov’s resignation and the limp leadership of his successor, formed the backdrop to what would be Poland’s first genuinely competitive election. In contrast to previous contests, candidates would campaign vigorously, organising rallies and waging wars of letters in the local press – speaking beyond the very narrow electorate to the wider educated population, in the belief that electors did not only represent their own interest with their votes but those of their wider communities. The outcome would undoubtedly shape the direction of Polish history.
 
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Tommy4ever

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That economic crisis is very worrying, are textiles and booze the two legs the Polish economy stands on?

Persia was an unexpected route for early expansion, I hope you continue to surprise!

Well at present they remain tiny parts of the overall economy - which is still almost entirely agricultural. But they are key components of the industrial sector (both old fashioned artisanal labour and new factory production). I've been using actual V2 figures to track a few key indicators so we can see how production evolves as we go along. Often when you are playing a game of V2 you think any expansion to your factories must mean the economy is growing, but in the early stages of the game artisans are a much bigger part of your economy, and their output swings up and down violently.

And now we can add a new Asian spherling to those Persian conquests!

Will there ever be a timeline where the Russians aren’t dicking about in Budapest? Feels like an historically fated crisis.

Plenty of interest over the last two updates seeing the first stirrings of democracy reach Poland. I enjoy the evolution of the political groups, and the premiership existing a the mercy of the tsar rings nicely true. Good stuff all round.

I’d recognise those spreadsheet screenshots anywhere! Making me feel like old Jo Grimond should get an outing in Echoes round about now…

And now we are starting to get actual political parties - and from now on elections where the biggest drama doesn't involve a half percent shift in the popular vote and two seats changing hands :p.

Ah yes - I'll be interested to see what he is getting up to under Mosley!

In every age, in every place, the ambitions of Russia Poland for warm-water ports and control over Central Asia remain the same.

Your description of "staid Polish politics" conjured up a rather amusing mental image of a rather foppish aristocrat coming out to address a crowd from a high balcony, delivering maybe five or six short sentences in a clipped and barely audible monotone, then beating a hasty retreat lest he catch some sort of lower-class malady from prolonged exposure to the "unwashed masses."

A bit of geographic determininsim guiding us on those ones :p.

That's the image I was going for in those early elections :D. The fact the franchise was so narrow (and still is) and so few votes shifted in each election made it hard to imagine there was much 'politics' going on - which would make sense considering elections were still quite new to the Poles.

The Papacy is a paper tiger. I seriously doubt it has anywhere near the global power projection capabilities of the British Empire. It should be no problem for the Poles to occupy everything.

I wouldn't dismiss the Papacy so easily, especially with Poland's handling of Pannonia. If the Papacy is threatened, the HRE might come to their aid... at least against the Poles.

I feel as though an end to slavery will occur soon. It's already divided the nation, and what happens if slaves take things into their own hands? And, if they succeed, why should they kneel to Poland, who didn't aid them?

Their 'core population' if you like consists of the Italians living between Rome and Naples and, more importantly, the Christian majority in Egypt (which is actually their primary culture in game). Their massive Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist populations across Asia are basically colonial subjects. So that gives them a somewhat narrower core than the British - but still a fairly strong base. At this stage in game they even have a slightly stronger economy than the HRE (although their lack of coal and iron and smaller core population meant they'd lose that position in the 1860s and 70s).

As for slavery - the Slavophiles might have decided to put up with it for now. But the campaign for Roma freedom has rolled on, and become an article of faith among the new Constitutional Party. We'll have to see if they can end it, and what the future of the serfdom of the wider population is beyond that.

The great game begins in Central Asia! We’re also closer to bordering Pope, and inching closer to Israel. Oh I realize I missed playing v2. Elections galore, and there’ll be new parties to bring new fun to the house in the future. :)

I hand't played it for years and really enjoyed getting back in the saddle. As you can probably tell, I absolutely love all the endless statistics it gives you access to.

The one downside to going to V2 straight from EU4 though was the obvious shortcomings in terms of diplomacy. Compared to EU4 your options felt so 'light' in V2. Time for Vicky3!

There is much going on here, but I feel the matter of education is going to very thorny for some time yet. It is an area that needs considerable investment, and therefore will be a considerable cause for conflict. Poland cannot rest of her laurels.

Indeed, when we do get around to passing education reforms and having a more solid school system - you can already see how explosive the issue will be. Should schools be state run and secular, or church run and Jewish? What about the minorities? Should the state fund Muslim, Hindu and Christian schools? It is doomed to put liberals, Jewish conservatives and minorities all in opposing camps.

I am very curious how the Christians in Poland think about the Papacy, particularly the nearly six million Catholics.

Indeed, I've been considering this myself. With the Papacy a real global power in this TL, any philosophy of political Catholicism is going to have a very different edge to OTL. Not only will it have a sort of Comintern-vibe of a great power being at the centre of it, it will likely have to be in some way shaped by the political regime in the Papal States - a theocratic autocracy.

Here's to hoping we don't slip back into being outdated with the rest of Europe.

For now, we are fairing well technologically. Our literacy is lower than the rest of Europe, so our research is a bit slower (and the likes of the Papacy and HRE had a head start since they began the game civilised) - so we're not cutting edge, but neither are we completely out of our depths, especially in military tech.
 
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DensleyBlair

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You’ve always got to keep an eye on the moralists. They’re usually the ones with the most colourful extracurricular interests.

these constitutionalists meanwhile sound like a decent lot. How long before they have a shot at power, I wonder?
 
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