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Influence is a way for factions to have or gain control over a star system. Many factions can share influence within a system. The first row in the system's faction lists the controlling faction for a system and always controls the controlling station, which is usually the biggest in the system. It is possible for players to increase the influence of different parties.
The minor factions within a system all share the influence in percentages. Government types vary depending upon the ideas of each faction; there can be anarchy, dictatorship and prison colony amongst other forms and directly correlate on what the factions focus on, such as trading.
Each system is ruled by a "controlling faction" which is determined by whichever faction owns the "controlling station" (usually the biggest) in the system. The controlling faction also determines the system's economy state (economy type cannot change), its government type, and controls its system authority vessels.
Each faction is either listed as Independent or owes their allegiance to one of the three major factions: Federation, Empire, or Alliance. Faction allegiance is displayed under the respective minor faction on the Reputation pages (located under the Status tab) by name and icon, and by icon only under the System Status page.
The system's allegiance is directly connected to the controlling faction's loyalty.
The way the influence system functions is not entirely understood, however players have managed to gather an understanding of what it does, and how it is affected by certain actions.
Gaining influence for a faction seems noticeably harder than losing influence for a faction. 
Population within a system is not directly correlated to the influence algorithm, but it seems to be easier to gain influence in low population systems. The amount of missions available of a specific faction is directly tied to the influence the faction has within the system.
If a faction gains a majority of influence within a system, they have a chance of taking the system over through a civil war. Stations and outposts owned by the opposing faction will need to be taken over first before the system's controlling station can be taken over. Elections work similarly to wars, however, both opposing sides must have the same government type.
Players have performed tests to determine the best methods of gaining influence.
To increase a faction's influence players should focus on performing the following tasks:
- Completing missions for a faction,
- Trading with faction owned stations or outposts,
- Turning in bounty vouchers,
- Turning in combat bonds and,
- Selling exploration data,
In order to gain influence for a non-controlling faction, players should:
- Complete a mission's alternate option given through Unidentified Signal Sources
- Commit crimes in the system which will decrease the influence of the minor faction controlling the system.
- Destroy the controlling faction's ships and megaships.
Abandoning, timing out, or failing missions does not affect any faction's influence.
A minor faction can experience multiple different states simultaneously in a system where it has a presence. Background simulation and player activity both affect states, with the latter having a much more significant impact. A pending state that has "critical" status will be the next state unless there is a rapid change in player activity.
A minor faction is represented by three types of states at all times: Happiness, Economy, and Security. These reflect a minor faction's current status as represented by its overall mood, financial strength, and stability. The interplay of these three primary states can trigger or be affected by a secondary state with beneficial or harmful effects.
Happiness is a measurement of a minor faction's outlook, and is determined by the number of positive and negative states it is experiencing. More positive states lead to increased happiness, while more negative states lead to decreased happiness. The five Happiness states are as follows, from most positive to most negative:
Economy represents a minor faction's relative wealth and trade activity. In addition to affecting Happiness, the active Economy state has various positive and negative effects on stations that the minor faction controls and systems where it has a presence.
The most positive Economy state, Investment is when a minor faction is experiencing a particularly strong economic upturn and is reinvesting the profits into the population. It is effectively a stronger version of the Boom state.
Boom states start when there are increases in wealth and standard of living. While active it increases the wealth of the system and benefits of trade missions completed for the minor faction.
Generally a Boom state will continue for 3 weeks or until its accrued "boom value" is spent.
"When in boom, the wealth of a system is increased for the duration and all trade missions have double the influence. Boom can also positively increase a minor faction's influence. Boom can be entered by consistent trade profits and completed trade contracts. Boom tends to last until they naturally expire or until some other indicator takes precedence, such as famine." 
A neutral Economy state, where a minor faction is experiencing neither positive nor negative economic effects at the moment, but can be pushed into Boom or Bust.
The opposite of Boom.
A stronger version of Bust. In a Famine, there is a severe shortage of vital Commodities, causing a massive economic downturn. Signal Sources labeled "Seeking Foods" and "Distribution Centre" will appear near the stations of affected minor factions, and bringing Food Cartridges to them will reduce the Famine's duration.
Famines can also be triggered if a minor faction is affected by the Blight state for too long.
Security represents a minor faction's stability and capacity to protect the stations and population under its control from external and internal threats.
During Civil Liberty, a sustained period of stability has boosted confidence in faction security. A system's security level is temporarily increased by one stage (Low to Medium, or Medium to High), and NPC criminal activity has a lower chance of occurring.
A neutral Security state, where a minor faction's security forces are operating at baseline effectiveness and crime is at manageable levels.
Civil Unrest is triggered on decreases of security and standard of living. While active it continues to lower security and standard of living for the system. All combat missions and actions for the minor faction are more effective.
Civil Unrest can be triggered by selling prohibited Commodities to a black market, and countered by bounty hunting.
Lockdown is triggered by a low security and development level for a system, and increases security level and decreases wealth while active. Bounty hunting for the minor faction has a greater impact.
"Lockdowns increase the security rating for a system but also have a negative effect on the system's wealth. Increased bounty hunting activity can shorten the lockdown period."
Lockdown can be triggered by destroying system security forces, and countered by bounty hunting.
In contrast with primary states, secondary states only occur when a minor faction meets certain conditions or through random chance. A minor faction is always characterised by its three primary states, but secondary states are conditional and occasional.
These states are triggered by a minor faction reaching a certain combination of primary states or two minor factions directly competing with each other for control of facilities and systems. They present a minor faction an opportunity to grow or represent consequences for a failed attempt at growth.
When a minor faction's influence reaches a high enough level in a system, the faction will enter a state of Expansion and attempt to establish a presence in a neighboring system. This state will decrease wealth and increase development level while active. The minor faction who obtained the Expansion state will be added to the minor faction list of a nearby system.
"Expansion occurs when a minor faction reaches a sufficient influence rating and there is a populated system within striking distance. The act of Expansion is a costly one, and the wealth and development rating suffers during the period of Expansion."
While the Expansion state is active missions will begin to appear in a nearby system to allow the expanding faction to build their influence in the new system.
The opposite of Expansion. A minor faction will withdraw completely from a system where it can no longer maintain its presence, resulting in decreased wealth and development in its other systems.
During an Outbreak, a contagious disease has begun sweeping through a minor faction's population. Outbreaks are triggered by a low standard of living and development level, and they further decrease the standard of living while active. Medicine trade missions are more effective, combat missions and actions provide no benefit to the minor faction.
Elections are a peaceful alternative to a civil war.
The factions involved are deciding which should become the controlling faction. This state may occur when a minor faction that is not the controlling power's influence raises to near the level of the controlling faction's influence.
"Elections occur when two minor factions of a similar political structure resolve a conflict over ownership and influence within a system."
Triggered by changes in influence between competing minor factions or when a single minor faction reaches a high enough influence level. Standard of living and security level is decreased while this state is active. Generates Conflict Zones and only combat missions or actions provide any benefit to the minor faction.
Civil War cannot be triggered by a faction with less than 7% influence in a system, however any minor faction above 7% can start a civil war with a minor faction below 7%. If a minor faction has greater than 60% of influence, a Civil War will automatically start between the minor faction and the controlling faction unless one of those factions is already engaged in a Civil War elsewhere. A civil war will only be triggered if the factions are not in cooldown (3-25 days).
After a civil war is triggered there is a cooldown of 3 days before another civil war can occur. Civil wars can only occur between two minor factions at a time. Additionally, a minor faction can only be engaged in a single Civil War at a time (i.e. a Civil War cannot break out in a system if one of the factions is already engaged in a Civil War elsewhere). Upon the conclusion of a civil war the most valuable space station is transferred from the losing minor faction to the winning minor faction and thus can cause the system's controlling minor faction to change.
War is triggered by an invading minor faction reaching a high enough influence level. Decreases standard of living, wealth and security for the system while active. Influence changes only apply to the involved parties and are only applied from combat missions or actions. Conflict Zones will be spawned throughout the system.
Exiled occurs when a minor faction that holds the power to grant access permits to their home system is expelled from that system. When this state is triggered, a Flight Operations Carrier Megaship will be deployed to a neighboring system with the aforementioned permit-giver faction given permanent control of it. This ensures that the permit-giver faction will always be available to distribute its permit.
To date, the Exiled state has only been triggered once, when the player minor faction The Black Fleet expelled the permit-giver faction Conservatives of Tiliala from the permit-locked Tiliala system. The Black Fleet took control of Tiliala and was made a secondary permit-giver for the system, while the Conservatives of Tiliala were relocated to the Megaship Tiliala's Lament in the Akandinigua system.
These states are either random or arbitrary occurrences that are generally not caused by other minor faction states. They can have a significant impact on a minor faction's Happiness, Economy, and Security states while they are active. The duration and impact of some of these unique states can usually be curtailed through specific Combat activities or by Trading certain commodities.
Infested & Incursion
Two related states added in Elite Dangerous: Beyond Chapter Four (3.3). Infested is a state that lasts for one week and indicates the presence of Non-Human Signal Sources and Thargoid vessels. If enough Thargoids are destroyed before the next week, an Infested system will revert to normal. If too few Thargoids are destroyed, Infested systems will advance to the Incursion state, which has cumulative negative effects on the entire system. Incursions persist indefinitely until enough Thargoids are destroyed to force them to leave.
The Eagle Eye array is the only reliable means of determining which systems will experience Incursions in advance. Each of Eagle Eye's six Installations has an Unregistered Comms Beacon that can be scanned and deciphered every week to identify Incursion targets.
A state added in Elite Dangerous: Beyond Chapter Four (3.3). When a Pirate Attack occurs against a specific faction, pirates will invade a system controlled by that faction and frequently interdict passing pilots, especially traders. Pirate Attacks are likely in systems in a positive Economy state, and temporarily lower an affected faction's security rating.
Notably, a minor faction that is experiencing Investment, Civil Liberty, and Pirate Attack simultaneously will buy mined Mineral Commodities at much higher prices than usual.
The Blight state was introduced with The Scourge Interstellar Initiative. A Blight is a random event caused by an outbreak of an aggressive pathogen that is lethal to crops. Stations that are under the control of a minor faction affected by Blight begin seeing sharp declines in reserves of agricultural Commodities, such as Grain, as the Blight pathogen destroys crops and citizens stockpile foods in response. Once local food stocks are fully depleted, the pathogen causing the Blight will die out and the minor faction will enter a Famine. Blight can be counteracted before it causes a Famine by delivering Agronomic Treatment to affected systems.
The Drought state was added in the January Update. A Drought is a random event that afflicts minor factions with dwindling or disrupted water supplies, resulting in a negative effect on its Economy state because it must divert funds to importing water. A Drought can be countered by delivering Water and other emergency supplies to affected systems.
The Infrastructure Failure state was added in the January Update. An Infrastructure Failure is a random event that disrupts a faction's operations and has a negative effect on both Security and Economy states. In addition, the increased demand on other infrastructure may cause other local factions to also experience an Infrastructure Failure. Repairs to infrastructure will occur automatically, but can be hastened by deliveries of food and machinery commodities.
The Natural Disaster state was added in the January Update. A Natural Disaster is a random event that has significant negative effects on both Security and Economy states for a minor faction. It also places additional strain on local infrastructure, increasing the chance of a Drought or Infrastructure Failure occurring among other local factions.
The Public Holiday state was added in the January Update. A Public Holiday is a random event in which a minor faction observes a designated holiday and holds celebrations. Public Holidays increase a faction's influence and standard of living for their duration, but there is a small cost to its Security and Economy states.
The Terrorist Attack state was added in the January Update. A Terrorist Attack is a random event in which a terrorist group targets a prosperous minor faction, causing major negative effects for that faction's Security and Economy states. The impact of a Terrorist Attack can be countered by legal deliveries of weapons for use by local authorities and bounty hunting, or by the faction entering a Lockdown.
- Investment was originally a form of Expansion for distances longer than 20ly. The in-game station status still shows the old message suggesting it is a form of Expansion, but this is no longer true.
- The "Happiness" system introduced in Elite Dangerous: Beyond Chapter Four (3.3) has no effect on Expansion. Initially, Frontier claimed that Expansion would only happen in the "happiest" system, but this has yet to be implemented.
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/lets-test-this-persistent-universe-and-see-if-fd-are-true-to-their-word.71327/post-1526898
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/is-the-repution-system-bugged.93355/post-1455273
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/mercs-of-mikunn-results-after-3-weeks-of-effort-also-a-request-for-documentation-in-game-and-out.97577/post-1526005
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/mercs-of-mikunn-results-after-3-weeks-of-effort-also-a-request-for-documentation-in-game-and-out.97577/post-1532191
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/mercs-of-mikunn-results-after-3-weeks-of-effort-also-a-request-for-documentation-in-game-and-out.97577/post-1532493
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/mercs-of-mikunn-results-after-3-weeks-of-effort-also-a-request-for-documentation-in-game-and-out.97577/post-1522843
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/mercs-of-mikunn-results-after-3-weeks-of-effort-also-a-request-for-documentation-in-game-and-out.97577/post-1517533
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/mercs-of-mikunn-results-after-3-weeks-of-effort-also-a-request-for-documentation-in-game-and-out.97577/post-1692222
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/lets-test-this-persistent-universe-and-see-if-fd-are-true-to-their-word.71327/post-1592481
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/bug-seeking-luxuries-have-become-conflict-zones-in-boom-hi-tech-systems.103448/post-1610363
- Frontier Forums: Content Recap: Beyond - Chapter Four Livestream - Background Simulation and Scenarios
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/mercs-of-mikunn-results-after-3-weeks-of-effort-also-a-request-for-documentation-in-game-and-out.97577/post-1691321
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/mercs-of-mikunn-results-after-3-weeks-of-effort-also-a-request-for-documentation-in-game-and-out.97577/post-1691696
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/mercs-of-mikunn-results-after-3-weeks-of-effort-also-a-request-for-documentation-in-game-and-out.97577/post-1640171
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/mercs-of-mikunn-results-after-3-weeks-of-effort-also-a-request-for-documentation-in-game-and-out.97577/post-1664775
- GalNet News, https://community.elitedangerous.com/galnet/uid/560a4ee49657ba303058f74d
- GalNet News, https://community.elitedangerous.com/galnet/uid/560e4c439657bafe1746f4ee
- 78 Ursae Majoris left the Federation by an Election. Tour of Frontier Systems Set to Begin Shortly
- GalNet News, https://community.elitedangerous.com/galnet/uid/560cf1979657ba967258f74b
- Michael Brookes about civil war influence rules
- Elite: Dangerous Wings 1.2 Patch Notes
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/lets-test-this-persistent-universe-and-see-if-fd-are-true-to-their-word.71327/post-1665470
- Michael Brookes,https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/mercs-of-mikunn-results-after-3-weeks-of-effort-also-a-request-for-documentation-in-game-and-out.97577/post-1753928
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/mercs-of-mikunn-results-after-3-weeks-of-effort-also-a-request-for-documentation-in-game-and-out.97577/post-1746447
- Michael Brookes, https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/mercs-of-mikunn-results-after-3-weeks-of-effort-also-a-request-for-documentation-in-game-and-out.97577/post-1755639
- Elite Dangerous - Basilisk Takedown and New System State "Exiled"