Galactic Republic (Star Wars)

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Galactic Republic
Missing image
Emblem of the Galactic Republic

Form of GovernmentFederal Republic--Unicameral--Parliamentary
Official languageBasic
Judicial BranchInterGalactic Supreme Courts of Justice
Legislative and Executive BranchGalactic Senate
Senate Chair of State and GovernmentSupreme Chancellor
Assistant Senate HeadVice Chair
Establishment 25,000 BBY
Reorganization into the Galactic Empire 19 BBY
Re-establishment 5 ABY
CurrencyGalactic Standard Credit (Republic Dataries)

The Galactic Republic is the name of the interplanetary government used in the fictional Star Wars universe prior to the establishment of the Galactic Empire. By the time of the original Star Wars trilogy, it is referred to as the Old Republic. It was a benevolent, though ineffectual, democratic government tied up in layers of bureaucracy.

The Republic, as it was commonly known, had a highly democratic government that was able to sustain itself for over twenty-five thousand years (according to the Expanded Universe, as implied by Obi-Wan Kenobi's line in A New Hope that "for over a thousand generations the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic"). It is said that its complete history would "fill ten thousand libraries."



The Republic itself was formed over 24,000 BBY when the first Galactic Constitution was signed on Coruscant. Whether this means that Coruscant was the original homeworld of humans or simply the most powerful world at the time is still up for debate, and there has been little said about the event other than that it occured.

The Republic was made up of about a million worlds. The Clone Wars, which occur from 22 BBY to 19 BBY, was the first full-scale war since the Republic's formation.

This has caused some confusion, as the Expanded Universe mentions there were other wars throughout the Republic's history such as the Hundred-Year Darkness (7,000 BBY), the Great Hyperspace War (5,000 BBY) and the Great Sith War (4,000 BBY). This seeming contradiction may arise from the fact that the final confrontation with the Sith on Ruusan (1,000 BBY) could have devastated the galaxy to such an extent that the Republic had to be rebuilt from the ground-up. See the Ruusan Reformation for more information.

If this is true, it suggests that later political figures would often use this date when referring to the Republic's "founding," hence the belief that there had been no "full-scale" wars since "the foundation of the Republic." Minor conflicts, such as the Stark Hyperspace War (44 BBY), would not be considered "full-scale."

The Jedi and Jedi Council

The Jedi had lots of power. Jedi were welcome on every Republic world. However, the Jedi with the most power were members of the Jedi Council. Yoda and Mace Windu had the highest athority of all besides the Supreme Chancellor. However the Chancellor could take control of the Council if he was ceded full emergency powers. The Chancellor also had a projector in his office so Jedi on very important missions cound contact the Chancellor, any senators, and any Jedi there. When Obi-Wan Kenobi contacted Coruscant on Geonosis after whitnessing Count Dooku's meeting with Seperatist forces, his hologram appeared at Palpatine's office while being witnessed by Palpatine, Yoda, Mace and many senators, Jedi, and Council members.

The Galactic Senate

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Galactic Senate building.

The Republic began as a mutual protection and economic alliance among a number of planets in the galactic core. Each member state (system governments) returned a representative (a senator) to a central legislative body (the Senate). Senators were ambassadors of their homeworld, and member worlds were able to maintain their government and society in accordance with local beliefs, customs, and traditions. There was a wide variety of different local governments along the political spectrum: from monarchies to republics to hive-like communes. In some systems, the senator was elected to that post, in others the world government appointed the senator. Naboo's monarch appointed their senator, while the Alderaan Council of Elders elected their senator out of their own ranks (usually the heir to the Royal House of Organa, as the heir was also the leader of the council).

When the Republic's power and influence expanded, many new areas of the galaxy are incorporated into the Republic. A reorganization of Senatorial representation occurred 1,000 BBY during the Ruusan Reformation. The most common organization for these new territories was to group regions into Sectors of about 50 inhabited worlds. Each sector is represented by a Senatorial Delegation. When the number of sectors became too large, sectors were organized into roughly a thousand regions, each represented by one delegation to the Senate.

The Senate served as the governing body of the Galactic Republic, while the Jedi Order served as its defenders. Soon thereafter, the Senate, and therefore the seat of government, was established on the planet Coruscant, coordinates 0-0-0 in the standard galactic coordinate system, signifying its central location in the galaxy.

Missing image
Interior of the Senate.

The Senate was an enormous building containing many floating platforms, each of which contained several senators. Each platform in the senate represented a "sector" of the galaxy, with one senator for that sector accomponied by a delegation of aides and advisors. Some platforms represented individual worlds bringing special pleas to the senate, others the special interest guilds such as the Trade Federation. Along with the senators, the leaders of the individual member planets apparently also had the power to vote in the Senate and introduce legislation. Each senatorial delegation had one vote.

The members of the Senate then elected a Supreme Chancellor from amongst their ranks who served as the Senate's presiding officer and as the Republic's de facto leader. The Chancellor was assisted by the Vice Chair, who is presumably elected in the same manner as the Chancellor; the same Vice Chair is present throughout the entire prequel trilogy. Based on the films, we can see that the Senate followed pseudo-parliamentary rules. In Episode One, Chancellor Finis Valorum was forced out of office by the Senate in a motion of no confidence, introduced by Queen Amidala of Naboo.

Senators received one vote in all matters, procedural and substantive. The Chancellor was elected from within the Senate for a set term (presumably up to 2 terms of 4 years, though exceptions were made in cases of emergency, as given throughout various books and movies of the second trilogy). The assembly was in turn divided into individual committees, each specializing in specific fields of government administration, and which were responsible for creating legislation to be reviewed by the full assembly. The Senate had some form of judicial power as well, although the Republic's judicial branch was the Supreme Court and the Senate's power in this area may have been limited to trying its own members.

Although legislation passed by the Senate was binding to all member worlds, most of the everyday legislation followed by citizens of the Republic was created at the planetary, sector, or regional level. Therefore, the main functions of the Senate were to mediate disputes between members, provide for the common defense, and regulate inter-system trade. The Jedi, who answered to the Chancellor, became traveling representatives of the Senate responsible not only for protecting the Republic and its citizens, but also to serve as representatives of the Republic and as mediators for individual disputes.

The Republic's greatest failing was its lack of formal organization. Much of its operation is based on non-binding constitutional conventions, which were often ignored and undermined by corrupt and power-hungry politicians. Coalition governments were common with special interest defining the legislative agenda.

Missing image
A senator of the Trade Federation attempts to address the Senate.

However, the waning years of the Republic were a time of corruption and great social injustice. The Senate became divided between those who genuinely wished to uphold the values and ideals of the Republic and those who wished to further their own goals. After a series of weak and ineffectual Chancellors and a crisis involving the invasion of the planet Naboo by the Trade Federation over a tariff passed in the Senate, the time comes for strong leadership to end the corruption.

After Palpatine became Chancellor, he increased the power of the office from acting as commander-in-chief of the Army of the Republic to the institution of his personal bodyguard, the Red Guard. The rights of many including the Galactic Senate, were relinquished in the name of Galactic security. The removal of privacy screens in the Galactic Senate, which allow senators to discuss issues before the senate in private resulted in many senators afraid to voice their response to a vote because of the installed surveillance hovercams listening in on every word and reporting to the senate Security Chief. The Galactic Senate also met less often as the Supreme Chancellor was voted more powers.

Galactic Senators/Politicians

Politicians include Senators, the Supreme Chancellor, the Vice Chair of the Senate, the Administrative Aide, various Representatives from each system, and the members of the Jedi Council. Non-council jedi aren't neccessarily not politicians, but the special status of the Jedi Council enabled them to have a substantial degree of power and moral authority. One Jedi master, Luminara Unduli was the only non-council member to get as much power in politics as a council member. Below is a list of many politicians important to the Galactic Republic.

The Republic Military

For most of its history since the Battle of Ruusan, the Republic did not maintain an army except for ceremonial purposes. This was to display the Republic's peaceful ideals, as the Republic used Jedi Knights as "keepers of the peace."

Several trade organizations, such as the Trade Federation and Commerce Guild, kept armies of droids in order to protect their profits, but they often abused this power, such as when the Trade Federation invaded and occupied Naboo in the Battle of Naboo. Individual sectors also maintained their own security forces, such as Naboo Security Force or CorSec from Corellia, and these were sometimes used to combat small threats. However there was no centralized command, and the members of the Republic were loath to change this.

The Clone Wars changed all this. The Republic had no standing military to combat the Confederacy of Independent Systems and a Military Creation Act was proposed, which was strongly opposed by many of the Republic's pacifist leaders, such as Padmé Amidala of Naboo, who feared the possibility of going to war. Supporters included Orn Free Taa of Ryloth and Ask Aak of Malastare.

However, a Clone Army had already been created in secret on the planet Kamino ten years before. When it becomes clear the Confederacy had no intention of negotiating with the Republic, the Republic adopted this army as the Grand Army of the Republic, along with AT-TE walkers, gunships and other military vehicles.

The End and Rebirth of Democracy

By the time of The Phantom Menace, the Republic has grown unbearably corrupt. Senator Palpatine of Naboo became the Chancellor in 32 BBY after his predecessor, Finis Valorum, was thrown out in a no confidence vote. Traditionally, the Chancellor could only have two 4-year terms, but Palpatine stayed in office much longer due to the Separatist Crisis.

The crisis occurred when several of the Republic's member Star Systems and organizations united in order to separate from the Republic. This unified organization became known as the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Tensions between the Republic and the Separatists eventually broke, and the Clone Wars began as chronicled in Attack of the Clones.

The Senate granted Palpatine emergency powers to deal with the Separatists in a motion by Representative Jar Jar Binks to deal with the Confederacy. In the ensuing years, the Senate increasingly ceded its power to Palpatine in the name of security until Palpatine effectively did not need the approval of the Senate for any of his actions (although since he held a vast majority of the Senate, it would not matter).

Birth of the Empire

At the conclusion of the Clone Wars, Palpatine declared that the Galactic Republic would become a Galactic Empire so strong as to never be threatened by outside forces again, and declares himself to be Emperor of the galaxy; deluded by Palpatine's charm and skill in conjunction with the effect his Dark-Side powers of persuasion, the majority of the Senate cheered him on loudly in approval. After millennia the Republic ceased to exist.

It is revealed in Revenge of the Sith that the clone troopers have been trained by the Sith—unbeknownst to any of the Jedi—to respond to a command issued by the Commander-in-Chief of the Military to slaughter their Jedi commanders. After the Senate transfers control of the clone army forces serving under the Jedi to the Office of the Chancellor, Palpatine becomes the Commander-in-Chief of all Republic Military forces and as Emperor, uses this power to issue the command, Order 66 galaxy-wide to kill the Jedi.

Many of the Jedi serving as generals of the Grand Army of the Republic (the clone troopers) quickly fall victim to the clone trooper forces, who overwhelm the overextended Jedi, who had failed to foresee this tragedy due to the damper placed on their predictive abilities by the growing influence of the Dark Side caused by the re-emergence of the Sith Order. The Jedi remaining in the Temple on Coruscant are eliminated by clone stormtrooper forces led by Darth Vader, the man who had been the Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, who single-handedly cuts down many Jedi—including many children, the padawan-learners—by the blade of his lightsaber.

Palpatine then issues a decree which declares all Jedi to be enemies of the Republic after (ironically) portraying them as anti-democratic; the credibility of this assertion is enhanced by the attempts by the Jedi to kill him (an action they deemed necessary after discovering that he is in fact Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith).

The Senate continued to exist after the formation of the Empire, but was virtually powerless. Decades later, shortly before the Battle of Yavin, Palpatine disbanded the Imperial Senate and the last remnants of the Galactic Republic were swept away. The Senate Building, however, is still visible on the Coruscant skyline at the time of the destruction of the Second Death Star.

Post Return of the Jedi

After the fall of the Empire and the Galactic Civil War, the Galactic Republic is re-established by the Rebel Alliance as the New Republic which is reorganized into the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances after the Yuuzhan Vong captured Coruscant.

See also

hu:Galaktikus Köztársaság


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