A lot of this has to do with the world building.
Primarily with the Capitol and how it makes no sense as an evil empire.
It leaves far too many openings for people to screw it over and generally behaves in a non-logical fashion.
In many ways, it seems like the plot of this series is only able to happen because the Hunger Games are run in a way that even an incompetent reality show producer would find laughable.
So, here’s my guide into making an evil empire that isn’t run by total morons.
1. Make sure the Districts hate each other more than they hate you.
The Hunger Games would make a perfect opportunity to do this. Instead of having each district send you a team of two for no reason, add a reason!
If both participants from a District survive, the prize is doubled. This means that if any situation arises where a participant whose partner has died kills the partner of the winning participant, their District will be the focus of all hatred for the winning District.
2. Appear to be fair
Never take sides in any inter-District conflict. Remain totally neutral for the District’s own good.
Have every participant of the Hunger Games be the same age. Do not needlessly give one District an advantage over another. Give them the opportunity to do that themselves.
3. Set up ‘friendlies’ and local derbies.
Have non-lethal matches between Districts that would allow the participants to ‘practice’. Use these to foster animosity between Districts. Giving one District’s participants an opportunity to hurt or cripple another’s will cause tension and help ensure that they do not join forces.
Be sure to punish any ‘fouls’ with progressive fines that do not actually serve as a proper disincentive.
4. Delay the stream of the Hunger Games.
You’re going to have to do this anyway, as having twenty four teenagers in a high aggression environment is bound to lead to acts too horrific for public viewing.
If you’ve followed steps one to three, this will be vital in order to prevent accidentally airing rape to a national audience.
It will also allow ample time to fake an error if any of the participants try anything clever.
5. Make it clear to the participants that you are in control.
Dissuade them from trying anything clever by subtly dropping hints that their families are still under your control and that it would be a shame if anything were to happen to them.
6. Create local government, and allow it to be self-regulating.
Corrupt District councils are your friend. They will bring the focus of dissatisfaction closer to home.
Be sure to occasionally act as a benevolent force and sanction particularly corrupt councils. This will help bring other councils into line periodically, and make the general population grateful towards you.
7. Encourage Districts to regulate imports into their District using taxation.
Do this by having it be a non-deductible means of revenue for their local government.
8. Allow upward social mobility, but only sometimes.
This helps in the pursuit of number two by making you seem fair on a personal level. It also allows for the greater vilification of the poor by giving examples who ‘worked their way out of poverty’.
9. Treat the Hunger Games as a method of allowing upwards social mobility.
Don’t just give a prize to the winning district, provide benefits to the families of the top six participants. This will encourage families to put their children up for being participants of the Hunger Games and make you seem a more benevolent force while making sure you have something to threaten participants with.
10. Show disappointment in dissenters.
Encourage winners, and the families who have had their lives improved,to speak against anyone who speaks out against the status quo.
Remember, you’re doing it for the benefit of the poorer districts. It’s just that nothing is free in this world, people have to work to improve their lives.
11. Don’t name the District that has nuclear power ‘District 13’
On a related note, do not name it ‘District 4’ either. You’re just tempting fate.
12. Don’t allow Hunger Games participants from different Districts to hang out socially.
If you don’t understand why, you deserve what you get.
If you follow these simple steps, you should be able to avoid getting overthrown because you got outsmarted by a seventeen year old and her creepy stalker.