Depends on your starting options.
If you start without any council, 1st level meritocracy is overpowered, because you need a lot of capable leaders fast.
If you start with all councils, 1st level meritocracy is underpowered, since rearranging the cabinet can be prohibitively expensive with a full cabinet. Because for some strange reason, every competent cabinet member hates it when leaders who are incompetent at their current job are transferred to a "lesser job" that better fits their abilities. Even though that makes room for one of the competent leaders faction members to now take over the higher job.
That is the one reason I find a naked start easier than 4 or full council. In my AAR (check there), I started with interior first. That gave me, together with meritocracy supermen in the long run and I was able to throw governors of unified zones right out of the window via bronze retirement ASAP if they were without potential.
I recently became an admirer of interior bureaucracy because of that. Ever seen a guy with 77 int and Cap IV?
Anyway, I do not think the lvl 1 profile boon of meritocracy is overpowered. For recruit Talent you need to invest 20PP, which is a lot until mid-end game stage. And rng can still throw cap I int 14 guys at you.
Vic, what is the mechanic behind recruit Talent?
The logistics hell this game is IS the fun part! - Maerchen, 2020
The good thing is, we have all the information in the reports. The bad thing is, we have all the information. Maerchen, 2020
Came for SE. Will stay for SE.