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PM Forever India - Need some Opinions


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Hi all,

I'm not sure whether I've actually ever posted before, but I've been playing various PM/President Forever games for a while, and I've been tinkering with some modding too (I have a little previous programming experience). Now I've decided to take the plunge and do an entire new scenario. As you can probably guess, India isn't a simple way to start, but I don't like to start small.

Anyway, the scenario is moving along pretty well so far (although still at a very early stage). The limitations of Prime Minister Forever 2008 force me to make some design compromises, and I wanted to get some opinions on which type of compromise would be best.

The main compromise I have to make has to do with political parties, which are limited to 16 in PM4E. India has hundreds-to-thousands of parties. This would be fine if there were only a few parties that actually won seats, but that isn't the case. In the recently ended general elections, 39 parties won at least 1 seat in the Lok Sabha (Parliament). Furthermore, some single Parliamentary Constituencies have 30+ candidates in the running!

I've come up with a few ways to deal with this. One thing that helps is that most of the parties that win seats are grouped into large coalitions of 10+ parties. There are three big coalitions:

- The United Progressive Alliance - led by the Indian National Congress Party (INC)

- The National Democratic Alliance - led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

- The Third Front - led by various left-wing/communist parties

The simplest thing to do would be to treat each coalition as a single party, and maybe bunch everyone else into a couple "other" parties. The main battle for seats would then take place between the UPA and the NDA, with the Third Front being a sort of NDP-like presence on the scene.

BUT, I think that method is too big a simplification. India is an very diverse, regionalized and localized country, and creating 3 huge parties doesn't really convey that. It messes other things up too. Although parties are in coalitions, they run their own campaigns. If I stuff all the coalition parties into a single "UPA party", it gives the player an unrealistic amount of control over the campaign, which in reality is quite decentralized among the 10+ parties.

Obviously the most realistic solution would be to have 1000+ parties, but I can't do that.

So here is the second idea I've come up with:

The INC and BJP parties are by far the largest members of their respective coalitions, and are also the only national parties in them. So, I created individual parties for each of them. The Third Front has 3 national parties (Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), and the Bahujan Samaj Party), and I combined them into a single party (the Left Front).

I then combined the regional parties for each coalition into single parties, and joined them to their national parties using a coalition. So the party structure is:

INC <-coalition-> UPA Alliance

BJP <-coalition-> NDA Alliance

Left Front <-coalition-> Third Front Alliance

I feel like this is the best way to solve the problems I discussed above, but it causes one problem I can see. Who will be the leaders of the secondary parties? I'm leaning towards making them the leaders of the biggest party within it.

There is also the question of what to do about the hundreds of other parties and independent candidates. I'm thinking of breaking those up into broad ideological/cultural/regional groups, grouping hundreds of insignificant parties into a single one. This will mean axing a lot of actual minor candidates, but as I mentioned above, they simply can't all stay.

Sorry for rambling on for such a long time. What are your thoughts on what I've said?

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Indeed quite a complicated subject. I read somewhere about 80 million parties and independent candidates have registered for election since 1947, though most of those no longer exist/are no longer running (fortunately for you). I'd suggest going with your second idea of having the INC, BJP, and a far-left party, then lunding the rest by region and/or ideology within or without of a coalition. It will indeed take chopping candidates, but, as you said, you can't have every party. It's like no national UK scenarios include the British Christian, British Communist, British Socialist, or British Reform Parties, for instance, because you just can't have enough parties. That's my two bits for now.

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Firstly, I have little knowledge of Indian politics but a very good understanding of scenario creation and what makes a good scenario. (well, I think I do)

Here is my suggestion

4 Player Game

Any scenario plays best as a 4 'player' game as that is the way the game was designed. By organising the parties into no more than 4 groups you will ensure that the person who plays the scenario does not have to constantly flip back and forth between pages to try and see what is going on.

18 parties in my view is 14 too many and 5 parties, although only one too many is just as annoying as 18 parties. In my experience, potential players will not be interested in playing small parties anyway.

I would also ensure that the player has the opportunity to play as any party by including that party's leader as a leader option. You will only have group goals as opposed to party goals but there is nothing to stop you putting your party goals in a text document for the player to read. I would ensure that the campaign funds available for each leader were party funds and not group funds. If you think this makes the scenario too tough, try putting in an endorsement that gives the player the necessary financial boost.

It will help the player if in your ridings file, you put the party name in brackets after the candidates name (where necessary), so that they know in which ridings they need to campaign. As it is now a historical election, you already know which were the leading 4 candidates in each riding.

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It's an ambitious first scenario to do, wish you luck. Looking at Wikipedia, there seems to be a fourth Front too, i would like to see all four alliances seperate, the only problem being where to merge the independents who have 16 seats. Either go the four party solution and merge it with the Fourth Front or make a fifth slot for it, if you feel it's more appropiate.

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Thanks for the input guys. Display name makes a good point in that the game really does play best with only 4 parties. That having been said, I'm having a difficult time figuring out a way to make that happen, even if I do merge the INC and UPA into a single party, and do the same with the BJA-NDA and Third Front.

The issue is basically realism. As I mentioned before, there are 39 parties that actually won seats in the last election. Most of them fit into the three main alliances, but not all of them. Even if you add in the fourth front, which was a very loose, minor coalition, there are still a few outliers.

The other problem is that there are some parties that didn't win seats, but got a significant vote share. A good example is the PRP (PRAP) in Andhra Pradesh province. PRP didn't win a single seat, but was over 10% of the vote in most, and was a close second or third in a fairly large number. It seems to me that a party getting 10%+ of the vote can't be eliminated from the game without destroying its realism. The other problem of course, is that it is regional, and there are dozens of other parties like it across India.

I feel like the simplified and more complicated versions both have merits. Maybe a regular and a "wonk" version is in order? My current inclination is to work on the more complicated one, which would allow me to get a better grip on the political dynamics, and then do a simplified version second, if I feel it necessary.

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Alright, here is what I've settled on. Since INC-UPA and BJP-NDA are really the major players (nobody else is realistically going to be able to win the election), I'm putting them on the front page of parties like this:

frontpage.jpg

The Third Front is fairly important as well, but if someone just wants to play the game and have fun, they don't really have to pay attention to them. TF got massacred this year, so playing as INC or BJP you will pick up seats from them almost by default. Of course, a skilled player will have to pay heed to them, and an expert player might even be able to stem their bleeding :P.

There will be a total of 8-9 parties, which will appear in this order:

INC

UPA Alliance

BJP

NDA Alliance

Third Front

TF Alliance

Fourth Front (insignificant at about 25 seats)

Independent (also insignificant)

Local Party (haven't decided whether I need this or not. very insignificant for the most part)

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No doubt about that! I'm chugging slowly through my test province of Andhra Pradesh, which at 42 seats is basically a middle-to-high population state. Uttar Pradesh, the largest state, has over 80 seats, which will be fun!

It's very amusing to see the popular vote on my quick spacebar test runs. I'm modifying the PM4E 2008 scenario, using BC as Andhra Pradesh. You go through the whole country and each party has under 10 million votes, then you get to BC, and tens of millions of votes are added! In india, seats each have 1million+ voters. It's also amusing to lose the seat count while winning the popular vote by like 15 million votes!

I have one question that's bothering me though. does anyone have a good formula/method they use for assigning starting percentages? I have the final percentages from the election of course, but it seems that assigning those values would understate the number of undecideds at the beginning of the election and make the races less interesting.

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Since it is a recent elections, you can probably check polls that were taken in the weeks before. Usually scenarios start 4 -6 weeks for a campaign, unless you can find something more definite, when the campaign started. So check the polls at the time 4/5/6 weeks before and try getting those percentages. I think the undecideds can subtract away from the actual results, that would be a quick way, by increasing the undecideds. However there is another way in electorate_trends which the first number under the party name, which can change the actual percentages, i used it some time ago, but i'm sure you can strengthen or weaken using a minus number to drop the percenatges, without having to alter the ridings. I will have to check with this myself...

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Thanks for the advice! Polls in India have an annoying habit of being posted as seat-projections not percentages, but I'm pretty sure I've seen a few that showed the underlying numbers as well.

I like the idea of using the electoral_trends, if I'm understanding it right. I could input the numbers as-is into the ridings, then take some off on the province-wide level to simulate conditions at the beginning of the election. Might this also be a good way to simulate the possibility of big province-wide vote swings. There were a few provinces that had big swings from BJP control in 2004 to INC this year. I could put the 2009 numbers in, then subtract off them in electoral_trends.

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I have one question that's bothering me though. does anyone have a good formula/method they use for assigning starting percentages? I have the final percentages from the election of course, but it seems that assigning those values would understate the number of undecideds at the beginning of the election and make the races less interesting.

Mr preferred starting positions for historical elections are are as follows;

1. ridings data with previous election results and electoral trends file with opinion poll data taken at the start of the campaign.

If there is no suitable opinion poll;

2. ridings data with average of previous and last election results with electoral trends file set at 0 for each party.

Theory sparks file and document titles can be misleading. The electorate trends file can only be used to determine starting positions. If you want to create larger swings in particular provinces then you need to vary the regional centres data.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all, sorry for the long silence.

This project is STILL ACTIVE, although its been item number 2-3 on my agenda for a while, but 1-2 taking up most of my time.

I'm still struggling with the question of initial vote percentages. I can't use the constituency numbers from the last election because there was a major redistricting effort and a LOT, maybe even a majority of seats have different boundaries, sometimes very different.

What I think I'm going to do is this:

First I'm figuring out the percentages each party got in the constituencies they actually contested. Then I'll figure out the same percentages for this election, and figure out the difference between the two. I will add or subtract this vlaue into the actual vote counts from this year's election, or maybe 75% of the value, to give room for shifting opinions between elections. So for instance:

Party: 2004 percentage = 15%, 2009 percentage = 10% difference = -5% x .75 = 3.75

If Party got 35% in constituency X in 2009, the starting percentage would be: 35-3.75 = 31.25%

I also plan to average in any polling data I can find, although I can probably only find that for the coalitions.

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