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On-Chain Governance

The relay chain's logic itself will need updating occasionally. The governance mechanism allows Polkadot token holders to participate in the decision-making process rather than having any changes to the system be imposed by a central authority { or in the case of some de- centralised systems, by a team of developers. Too often, a contentious code change has led existing blockchains to an impasse or a permanent fork. We want a mechanism that balances being able to make uncontentious changes quickly when needed, while also providing the tools to deal with contentious proposals in a decisive and fair manner. The ultimate arbiters of Polkadot are the DOT token holders and so all important decisions, such as code changes, are made by state-weighted referenda. There is an elected council, responsible for making smaller decisions and partially setting the priority for referenda, in such a way that they cannot block a change that a majority wants.

Polkadot uses sophisticated mechanisms for Governance which allows it to evolve gracefully over time at the ultimate behest of its assembled stakeholders. A key and unfailing rule is that all changes to the protocol must be agreed upon by stake-weighted referendum { the majority of stake always commands the network. In order to make any changes to the network, the idea is to bring DOT holders together and administrate a network upgrade decision with the help of the Council (see Section 4.6.2). No matter whether the proposal is submitted by a DOT holder or by the Council, it will ultimately have to go through a referendum to let all DOT holders, weighted by stake, make the decision. Each DOT holder in Polkadot has the right to: a) submit a proposal, b) endorse a public proposal to prioritise it in the referendum timetable, c) vote on all active referenda, d) become a candidate for a seat in the Council, and e) vote on candidates for the Council. In addition, any DOT holder may become a nominator or a validator candidate to participate in NPoS

Forkless Upgrades through On-chain Governance

Self-Sustaining Blockchain

Polkadot Council

Turn out Biasing

Turnout biasing: It may seem restrictive to force a full stakeholder-based process to do some- thing as little as, say, nudging the block time down by 5%. However, without this rule the network would likely be unstable, as placing its control outside of the hands of stakeholders would create a misalignment that may lead to inaction or worse. However, by taking advantage of the fact that turnout is rarely 100%, we can effect different outcomes depending on the circumstances, crafting a balance of power between active and passive stakeholders. For example, simple voting systems typically introduce a notion of quorum, whereby a minimum amount of turnout must be reached before a change is passed.