Related to this question: After the main character united the seven clan into a Soviet-esque nation, education is introduced and critical, rational, and independent thinking is introduced to these seven warrior races. At the foundation of the nation, MC runs the nation as a paramount leader, assists by a council made of the Party Cadres (the foundation member of the Party, coming from the top echelon of each clan). MC is well-respected by all of the citizens because the MC gains the leadership of each clan fair and square and MC turn the nation from an early 19th century nation all the way into early 20th century in twenty years. But after a few decade, advocation for democracy starts to emerge from the young adults and people dissatisfy with the Party's policy being conservative and and the old ruling/social structure inadequate for the new world--because human nations are advancing too. After an incident, MC realized that grave mistakes are being made and a new government structure is needed for this nation (this is a character development plot). But how could the MC convince the Party Cadres to give up the power they once had without triggering something like the dissolution of Soviet Union or having tanks running over protesters?

Edit: The Party Cadres dont have inherent problem of loving power. They respect strength and believe that they are doing what is best for their nation. It is about the same sort of situation--in a more ideal way--as the 1989 Democratic movement in China. Basically, how to prevent the conservatives in the Party Cadres from anger overload and call in the tanks and convince them that they are wrong and the Party needs new Blood. Once again, they are not glory hound or power hungry.


8 Answers 8


Other answers have suggested revolutionary or violent solutions, and that makes a lot of sense because that's the most common way to replace ruling elites in human history. However there are a few counterexamples of more or less pacific transitions worth looking:

  • Britain in the XIX century. It started the century being a very restricted kind of democracy, with a very small electorate and with rigged elections dominated by an even smaller a powerful elite, and successive reforms transformed it in an actual democracy.
  • Japan after the Meiji revolution. In the Meiji revolution an alliance of feudal lords overthrew the central government (the shogunate) but then the new government convinced those same feudal lords to give up their power to the emperor.

Faced with similar challenges, elites in other countries and other historical moments have often tried to resist change, just to delay their fall and make it worse. In those two examples, the elites gave up some power in an unsustainable system to remain among the elites in a new situation which was more sustainable and stable.

Then the keys for such a change in the OP's society are:

  • Clan leaders should be convinced that keeping the current situation is likely to lead to a revolution in the mid term, or at least to some downfall that would endanger their standing.
  • Clan leaders should see a desirable place for them in the new order. Maintaining some type of prestigious honorary nobility for them may help, but allowing them to keep economic power is even better. Japanese daymios became the Meiji nobility, British lords stopped being able to rig elections but remained rich landlords.

Two thoughts:

  • Elections at the top, then expand membership.
    Many communist parties learned the hard way that a single leader can be deadly for the people just below them. A Stalin or Mao fears rivals and lashes out. So they learned the benefits of collective leadership. A junta, not a dictator. If your character is sufficiently certain of the adoration of the elites, start holding elections for the chairmanship of various levels, while still controlling membership. Require a supermajority for the chairmanship to encourage coalition politics. Repeat a few years and watch the developing factions. Then allow elections to the membership of those boards. A proportional system to encourage small factions and coaltion-building.

  • Control candidate lists, allow free elections.
    Allow the people a choice in their leaders (either truly free or at least mostly free), while maintaining party control of the candidate selection. Only party members in good standing can run for the town council, only graduates of the basic course at the party school can run for the district council, only graduates of the party university can lead a province.
    Compare both China and Iran.

Either way, start slowly and allow the existing cadres to transition from one system to the next.


Just execute them

The nice thing about being a Soviet-style head of state is that if you don’t care for how someone in the party behaves, and you’re above them, you can just have them executed. And their replacements. And theirs, until the right people are in place

A show trial with a confession extracted by torture will be helpful for maintaining a semblance of legitimacy.

See Stalin’s Great Purge or Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Mao’s model will be particularly handy, since it exploited the very radicalism of youth you are trying to sate.

  • $\begingroup$ But there were still powerful party cadres after the cultural revolution. $\endgroup$
    – Stef
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 13:16
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Stef that is because the cultural revolution didn't change the structure. When there is only one path for advancement (party membership), there will always be cadres. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 15:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is not going to be good for the nation. Great Purge destroyed the nation's economic and military capability and Cultural Revolution messed up China big time. I am more of trying to prevent a TianAnMen Square here $\endgroup$
    – Faito Dayo
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Faito Dayo They are becoming communists. This is already not going to be good for the nation. $\endgroup$
    – user64888
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 17:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Faito Dayo: you’re wildly overestimating the long term harm. Within two years of the great purge, the Soviets had the German war machine in retreat, and under a decade, they were one of two premiere world powers. The Cultural Revolution has in no way prevented the rise of Chinese hegemony in their spheres of influence. Both were very effective at eliminating the enemies they were aimed at, albeit with some collateral damage. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel B
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 17:15

In most cases, people who have power do not give up that power without a struggle. (Just try to take the car keys away from an elderly relative.) Attempting to force the issue will only make the struggle bigger and messier.

The best way is to give them a new position with the semblance of greater power, but actually has less. Give them a position with a lot of pomp and ceremony that has them going around the countryside talking about the good of the country. At the same time, give the new structure more power. (So, instead of taking the car keys away directly, provide a ride service with the image of riding in a limo with a driver. "We are upgrading your ride.")


Start with elections for local officials. Do it for something like mayors, governors, and the like, then work up to positions with more power over several years. By the time you hit about 50% (WAG) of the government (total), the ball will be rolling and unstoppable.

Citizens will see how much good the elected officials are doing and how much they are being held back by the unelected officials. The citizens will also see how easy it is to get rid of officials who aren't doing good. This will snowball and there will overwhelming support for converting the remaining positions to elected officials.

Anyone in power and not concerned with keeping it will understand how well this is working and will be more willing to let go of their power knowing that capable hands will take over, and knowing that power hungry individuals who go against public progress will be removed or otherwise curtailed before they can do any actual damage.

It's not just about giving up power, it's also about making sure that their replacements have society's best interests in mind, rather than their own pocketbook or desire for power.

This is sort of like a "real world" example of what writers are always told about how to write stories: show don't tell. You sometimes have to show people that something will work before they will believe or understand it'll work.


Make a democratic presidency.

Military dictatorships are loathe to give up their power, but they also often fuck up and run out of money. Running a government is hard, and the military is often pretty bad at it. In the same way though, they don't want a bunch of civilians defunding them and stopping them from doing what needs to be done. As such, they want a veto.

This is very common. as a transition. They can have civilians run most of the government, while a military leader can become the president and ensure that the military is well protected and shielded from civilian incompetence.

As such, point out the many failures they had, and the disasters that happened, and explain that the young need to have a voice. Set up a democracy where the military still has a lot of power and influence, but where the people can also push policies and ideas to help boost economic and cultural growth.

This has happened often irl with the cooperation of party elites. Leaders do generally want the best for their people, and any military nation inherently operates on consensus. If everyone who might fight feels they have a voice they'll be more willing to fight and be strong together than if they feel they are ruled by old out of touch people, and if the old and out of touch people have some degree of authority they'll be sated.


Leaders are always power hungry, there is no exception

Throughout history, it has always been the most ambitious people who have risen to power. Not the smartest, not the kindest, not the most qualified... to take one of those limited seats of power in your society, you must want it. Why you want it varies, but people who don't want it never get it. Even hereditary leaders are known to abdicate when they do not want that power; so, assuming that your Cadre Leaders are not at least somewhat power hungry flies in the face of everything we know about sociology and human nature. This means that you must assume that the ruling cadre is motivated by power.

Even if your Cadres could be peacefully convinced to give up power, other Cadres would just replace them

Furthermore, existing leadership is always keeping some other ambitious group from rising up to power; so, anything you do to dramatically weaken an existing power structure always invites those individuals to rise up and try to seize power for themselves. So even if you COULD get the Cadres to give up power peacefully, there will be some group in your society that will seize that opportunity to try to force their way into their own version of the old system where they will rule instead. So even if you prevent a violent revolution on the front-end, you can expect on on the back-end if you are just stripping them of their power.

Solution: Give the Leaders More power, not less

This sounds counter intuitive, but the best way to have a bloodless revolution is to give those in power more power than they had before. Your MC has a lot of power that the Cadres want (or fear); so, the best way to make them give up some of the power and privilege that they currently enjoy is to give them some of the power that they already lack.

So, your paramount leader needs to enact a system of shared power in which the elected leaders are given extra rights and privilege's as leaders, but become more beholden to popular opinion. It also must be assumed that the Cadre leaders will by-in-large make up the bulk of elected persons anyway.

So while you can still expect all the candidates to be from these same 7 ruling families, they must now compete with each other for electoral seats, and the only way they can compete is by slowly giving more and more concessions to the voting population which will eventually lead to the voting population becoming among the candidate population... but since no current leaders expect that to happen any time soon, they are happy to settle for a new electoral system as long as it comes with a constitution that guarantees them more power in the here and now.


Appeal to self interest. This can be either dirty (bribes, threats) or friendly: For example more benefits for their people, enforced cooperation on bigger projects, for example expanded markets and enforced rules on trade between Party Cadres that will increase their market reach.

Relating to the modern USA, the national project to create the Interstate Highway system created whole new kinds of mobility for all States, and has paid for itself 100 times over, including maintenance. It has expanded the footprint of businesses a thousand fold, both for getting supplies and employees, and for shipping their products. It gave rise to great expansion of transportation industries, like trucking and bus service.

Cooperative government does the same, but there must be a central power and arbiter for inter-Group disputes, so the Groups (States, in our case) had to give up some power, agree to follow some standards, etc. But it was in their best self-interest to do this, economically.

So find yourself a great "Big Project" that the Party Cadres do not want to be left out of, because they don't want their people to miss out on the benefits and be left behind. So they will agree to some "fair rules" and a "fair arbiter", giving up power to a central government to enforce rules equally on big Cadres and small and judge them fairly.

That is how the US got the States to agree on a Republic, with a Central Government, A President, A House of Representatives with equal votes, a Supreme Court, etc. That is how Parliaments are formed, a slightly different form of Representative Central Government.


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