- "There is no civility, only politics."
- ―Sheev Palpatine
The Galactic Senate, also referred to as the Galactic Congress, was the governing body of the Galactic Republic. It consisted of hundreds of senators who represented the many worlds of the galaxy, and was led by a Supreme Chancellor that was elected by and from the representatives. Its primary concern was mediating disputes between varying worlds and dictating the laws and regulations necessary to maintain the Republic.
During the reign of the Galactic Empire, the Galactic Senate was known as the Imperial Senate. However, this Senate was largely powerless, with its members discouraged from disagreeing with the policies of Emperor Sheev Palpatine. Immediately before the Battle of Yavin, Palpatine officially dissolved the Imperial Senate.
After their victory at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance was reorganized into the New Republic. One of the Republic's first acts was restoring the Galactic Senate, which was done so on the Republic's first capital world, Chandrila. As the capital of the Republic rotated among its member worlds, so did the new Senate.
- "The Republic is not what it once was. The Senate is full of greedy, squabbling delegates. There is no interest in the common good."
- ―Senator Palpatine
During the early years of the Republic, the Senate would come to serve as the democratic means of solving disputes within the new government as detailed in the Galactic Constitution, and would sit in the Senate Rotunda on Coruscant, located in the Senate District on the capital world of the Republic. The Senate and the Supreme Chancellor were protected by the blue-robed Senate Guards who stood watch and blended in well with the formal surroundings. They served as a symbol of order in the early Republic owing to its absence of a formal standing army. The guards could also be found at the entrances to many of the delegate platforms and at the entrances to the Senate rotunda itself.
During the Invasion of Naboo, Senator Sheev Palpatine was elected Supreme Chancellor, which ultimately started his rise to Galactic Emperor. Just before the beginning of the Clone Wars, the Sith Lord Darth Tyranus warned the Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker that this body had fallen under the influence of a Dark Lord of the Sith. His warning was disregarded as an attempt to confuse them, but it turned out to be true, as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine was actually the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. The war resulted in the Senate voting for more and more power to Palpatine in the process stripping away its own power, with changes in the Galactic Constitution prompting questions even from the Chancellor's own Loyalist Committee.
Following the Jedi Order's revelation that he was indeed the Dark Lord of the Sith and had masterminded the entire war in order to amass emergency powers, Palpatine would then declare himself the first Galactic Emperor, reorganizing the Republic into the Empire and the Galactic Senate into the Imperial Senate. Stripped of much its power, the Senate continued to grow weaker under the Empire, which enforced its power largely through a system of Regional Governors. Several years later and shortly before the Battle of Yavin, he formally disbanded the Senate, sweeping away the last remnant of the Old Republic.
The Galactic Senate was led by a democratically elected Supreme Chancellor that held the ability to call for special sessions of congress, but could just as easily be removed as voted into office through a Vote of No Confidence from the various senators that served under them. Supporting the High Chancellor was the Vice Chair, who would help set the agenda for the senate and call for votes on varying pieces legislation. Senators would represent varying worlds or sectors across the galaxy, while Junior Representatives could voice the opinions of a minority population or political party of an already represented planet. Despite this position, the Representative could not actively vote on or introduce new legislation, but could perform these duties if the instated senator was on a leave of absence or otherwise unavailable. Members of varying corporations, guilds, federations, and businesses received representation in the Senate, with members of the Trade Federation and others exploiting this position for monetary gain, and causing dissatisfied systems to view the Senate as corrupt.
The Galactic Senate Chamber located in the Senate Building would serve as the meeting hall for the Galactic Senate, and would be lined with one thousand and twenty-four repulsorpods which could detach from their positions along the wall and float into the center of the chamber. Despite being the stage for which galactic debate would ensue, most work was done behind the scenes in formal and informal subcommittees in the Senate Office Building, which contained the offices of varying senators and the Chancellor's office at the top. Under the Supreme Chancellor existed the Office of the Chancellor which would consist of his immediate staff.
The Senate was divided into numerous committees and subcommittees, each to handle various issues of Galactic government and lawmaking. Some of them were:
- "I am the Senate!"
The Galactic Senate would serve as the primary legislative body of the Galactic Republic. It was responsible for creating laws, mediating disputes, making treaties, and regulating commerce. It possessed the authority to levy taxes, declare war, declare Free Trade Zones and manage almost every action necessary to preserve the stability of the Republic. Despite its vast authority, it did not prosecute offenders, leaving the judicial system in the hands of the Supreme Court and peacekeeping efforts largely in the hands of the Judicial Department. The Senate could not order the Jedi Order into action, however could often pressure it into carrying out its directives.
The following are documents passed by the Galactic Senate or relating to its functioning:
- Galactic Constitution
- Military Creation Act
- Mandalore Defense Resolution
- Republic financial reform bill
- Republic military enhancement bill
- Petition of 2,000
The exterior of the Senate building would consist of a large courtyard known as the Senate Plaza which would display several statues of the Republic's ancient founders, while the large mushroom shaped Senate building would loom behind it. The interior would hold the Galactic Senate Chamber which would hold one thousand and twenty-four repulsorpods that could detach from the chambers wall, and were equipped with voice-amplifying microphones, translators, and hovercams that recorded the various proceedings. At the center of the chamber was a podium where the Supreme Chancellor and the Vice Chair would preside over meetings of the Senate.
Behind the scenesEdit
In background material composed by George Lucas in 1977 for licensees of the Expanded Universe, the "Republican Senate" represented a total of 24,372 systems and elected a Chancellor to a four year term. There was a term limit of one term. During a crisis, a Chancellor extended his term to 12 years and finally declared himself Emperor, first by rhetorically attacking the bureaucracy and then by aligning himself with it. The Jedi sided with the Senate after it attempted to impeach him. This story appears to be the germ of much of the events of the Prequel trilogy.