The Republic City government consists of five council members (representing the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, the Air Nomads, two representing, one for each Water Tribe) ruling the city. (See Nick Game screenshot) Decisions seem to be made by majority council vote.
While I can see this being a provisional idea, this model is anything but fair or even remotely representing the population of Korra-era Republic City.
Over-representation of certain groups:
In the beginning the make-up of Republic City should have been more or less 50/50 Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation Citizens, with a comparatively tiny number of Water Tribe people coming later, when other areas where added to RC.
How come the smallest groups -population wise- in the city, get the most representation?
Air Nomads: While having the Avatar on the council does seem a reasonable idea, this changed when Tenzin took the seat. He gets one council seat to basically represent his family and maybe a few dozen acolytes, while all of hundreds of thousands of Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom heritage people get one each.
Water Tribe: How did the second smallest population group end up with two council seats? There being two Water Tribes does not seem to be a good argument. If that is so, then why do Ba Sing Se Refugees, Omashu refugees, desert refugees, etc. not get their own seats either? They are equally separated culturally and distance wise.
Which leaves the third, completely unrepresented group of people: Mixed heritage.
Over time, with more intermarriage and a Republic City identity forming, representation has moved away from ethnic groups to representing bending groups.
Take Mako and Bolin’s family, who should they feel represents them? The FN council woman? The EK council man? Both? Neither?
Just because they expressed a certain type of bending does not mean they feel that way about the culture associated with it, or that they were even raised with that culture.
And this is not even talking about non-benders, who seem to get no representation at all if they do not strongly associate with one ethnic group.
This system clearly needs reform to better represent the needs of ‘present day’ Republic City, and I am sure that is where the show is headed.
Other issues (yet to be explained in the show):
How do people get to be council members?
Are there elections? If so, how do they work? Firebenders get to vote for the FN council seat? Earthbenders for the EK one? Do I have to state my alliance with one group to vote, or is it free for all?
What are those empty seats for? Is there a senate? Guilds? Unions? Other people representing the population? Or are those seats for visitors and ceremonies?