In the world of Charm Cities, the player will occasionally be asked to make key decisions by elected politicians in the local, provincial, and national governments. This is the main way that the player is asked to make decisions regarding the national conversation. Succeeding or failing to do what these politicians ask will affect the player's political capital.
Every politician has a set of values - either "amoral", "right-wing", "centrist", or "left-wing" - and each has a fundamental goal, which will affect what they ask you for, and which may include:
- Amoral goals:
- Scratch My Back: The politician will ask you to do somewhat random things to financially benefit them or their friends.
- Right-wing goals:
- Clannish: The politician will ask you to make decisions that favor the majority ethnic group.
- Tough on Crime: The politician will ask you to take aggressive moves against crime.
- Business First: The politician will ask you to support business interests.
- Centrist goals:
- Don't Rock the Boat: The politician will ask you to take positions in keeping with the national conversation.
- Populist: The politician will ask you to take whatever stance is most popular.
- Left-wing goals:
- Contrarian: The politician will ask you to take bold stands contrary to the national conversation to increase their political profile.
- Go Green: The politician will ask you to take aggressive moves to protect the environment.
- People First: The politician will ask you to support the worst-off members of your society.
Making decisions which satisfy the politician's goals will improve your relationship and failing to do so will worsen it. Politicians are somewhat affected by your decisions even when they aren't directly involved: if your "Contrarian" mayor asks you to do something, and you do, your "Don't Rock the Boat" governor will be unhappy (but less unhappy than the mayor, who asked you directly). Your relationship with a politician is measured on a scale of 0-99, with the following values:
- 00-09: Enmity. If they have an enemies list, you're on it.
- 10-19: Hostility. They're opposed to everything you stand for.
- 20-29: Rivalry. You routinely butt heads.
- 30-39: Friction. They disagree with you more often than not.
- 40-49: Neutrality. You have a working relationship, no more.
- 50-59: Understanding. You agree on at least some issues.
- 60-69: Rapport. Your interests generally align.
- 70-79: Solidarity. You work well together.
- 80-89: Friendship. You can count on them.
- 90-99: Alliance. They'll do almost anything for you.
At regular intervals of in-game time, there will be elections at various level of government. Each time such an election happens, all of the politicians will run against one or more candidates with different values and goals. The odds of a politician's reelection will vary depending on a variety of factors, including demographics, the incumbency advantage of the position, how well you have satisfied their goals, and whether you endorse them or their opponent. Endorsement is a gamble; endorsing the losing candidate will start off your relationship with the winner on a bad footing. You cannot endorse any candidates until your city has incorporated.
Politicians have a gender and an ethnic group, which are random but heavily weighted by the demographics of the society and by their politics (right-wing politicians are more likely to be from historically powerful groups). Their names and pictures are randomly selected based on their gender and ethnic group.
While the player, as the city manager, does the work of running the city, the mayor fills a primarily ceremonial position. Your city doesn't get a mayor at all until it reaches a certain size and incorporates, but once it does, they become your closest political contact. The mayor is unique among politicians in that, while they do have their own goal, they also serve as your go-between with your citizenry and will bring citizen complaints directly to you. Thus even a "Go Green" mayor will dutifully report that a major developer wants to pave over the wetlands, but will also say that they would rather you not do that. In that case, the mayor will be moderately satisfied no matter what position you take - either you did what their constituent asked or you met their personal goals.
When your mayor is happy with you, they will bring their considerable personal power to bear in lobbying the governor, thus somewhat increasing your political capital in the province and increasing the power of your decisions to affect the national conversation. Mayoral happiness also increases the city's Location Quality across the board, since citizens feel like they're being listened to. A mayor who's unhappy will have the opposite effect. There's no term limit on mayors and the incumbency advantage is high, so if you develop a good relationship with your mayor you have good chances to keep it for a while.
|Incumbent reelected||New mayor elected|
As your city continues to grow, you begin adding city council members. Your city council is founded when your city is big enough to support two members and can grow up to five if your city is large enough. Unlike the mayor, city council members do not bring citizen concerns to you, only their own goals. City council members represent a specific region of your city, determined very simply by taking a bounding circle around your city and dividing it into equal-area regions. With two members, each region covers 180 degrees of the circle and they're named "East" and "West", with three each region covers 120 degrees and are called "Northeast", "Northwest", and "South", with four each covers 90 degrees and are "Northeast", "Northwest", "Southeast", and "Southwest". At five members, a smaller circle with area equal to 1/5 the bounding circle (44.7% of the radius of the larger circle) is added in the center and is called "Central", and the outer regions are divided into 4. Regions are recalculated at every election.
Happy city council members slightly increase your political capital in the province and significantly increase the Location Quality throughout their region. City council members serve a maximum of two terms and have low incumbency advantage, so they turn over often.
|Incumbent reelected||New councilor elected|
The key political figure on the provincial level is the governor. Until your city reaches the size required to incorporate, you are working directly for the governor, who originally appointed you to manage the newly founded city. Your relationship with the governor's office will be quite easy at first; they will be your primary political contact, will work hard to assist you, and will be less affected by decisions made against their goals. However, once your city incorporates and has a mayor, the governor will become harder and harder to please.
Your relationship with the governor is your primary source of political capital at the provincial level. Even if the mayor, city council, and your national representative support you, and even if your city is thriving, a governor who hates you can still make your life difficult. Governors also have a voice at the national level, and if they're on your side, will increase your political capital there as well. Governors serve up to three terms and have moderate incumbency advantage. Before your city is incorporated, new governors will always be centrists, will start with a relationship of 85, and decisions they don't like have only 1/3rd the usual impact. As soon as your city incorporates, decisions will once again have full impact, and candidates for future elections may have any values.
|Pre-incorporation||Incumbent reelected||New governor elected|
This is your city's elected representative in the national legislature. You won't really be on their radar at all until your city gets fairly large, but once you are, your representative serves as your liaison to the national government. Unlike the governor, the representative doesn't have all that much individual power; while they do have their own goals and your relationship with them is important, they're just one representative. Even if your relationship is great, and even when you've made a decision they respect, you still might lose national political capital for your choices if those decisions are unpopular elsewhere in the country. It's conceptually possible to have a perfect relationship with your representative and still struggle to get national funding for your city services.
To have any hope of making a serious impact on national politics, you'll need your representative arguing hard on your behalf, but you'll also probably need your governor, and you'll certainly need a city that's well-liked and well-respected nationwide. Your representative also has some sway in provincial politics, and can buy you some political capital at that level. Representatives serve a maximum of four terms and have a somewhat high incumbency bonus.
|Incumbent reelected||New councilor elected|