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"A government founded on freedom of choice is going to make mistakes. But it can also correct them."
―The future Hero of Tython speaks to Doctor Nasan Godera, who had lost faith in the Republic after it yielded to the Empire's terms in the Treaty of Coruscant[1]

The Galactic Senate of the Republic stood as a symbol of democracy for thousands of years.

Democracy was a form of government. In this form of government, decisions were made by a vote of the people, though in some cases, representatives might be elected to conduct a democratic vote of such issues.

One type of democracy was direct democracy.

A dictatorship is usually considered the direct opposite of a democracy in terms of overall ruling philosophy, although it should be noted that democracies sometimes ironically turn into dictatorships via a vote.


"I've opposed the war, I opposed Palpatine's emergency powers—I publicly called him a threat to democracy!"
"That's all behind us now."
What is? What I've done? Or democracy?"
―Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker[2]

The Galactic Republic was a democracy with power entrusted to the Galactic Senate. Throughout its existence, it became increasingly corrupt, the Senators elected to represent the interests of their people beholden to powerful organizations and individuals who controlled events behind the scenes. During the Clone Wars, the Senate ceded increasingly greater powers to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, who eventually created the Galactic Empire out of the ashes of Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems that had split from it, and claimed the title of Galactic Emperor.[3] The Galactic Senate was allowed continued existence as a sham of democracy, becoming the Imperial Senate, until it was finally dissolved in 0 BBY.[4]

As Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and Anakin Skywalker discussed the nature of the Jedi, Anakin tried to argue that the Jedi weren't political, but Palpatine felt that any organization that existed in a democracy was political in some way.[2] As the Delegation of 2000 discussed their growing concern over Palpatine's power grab, Bail Organa expressed that they could not let a thousand years of democracy disappear without a fight, and Mon Mothma that Palpatine had become an enemy of democracy. Padmé Amidala, the wife of Skywalker, then explained that she was involved in the Delegation of 2000's activities, including denouncing the Supreme Chancellor as a threat to Democracy. Skywalker then explained it was all behind them, although Padmé questioned whether he meant what she had done, or democracy itself.[2] Later, Palpatine expressed to Skywalker that the Jedi did not trust him, the Senate, the Republic or even democracy itself.[3][2]

When speaking with Anakin Skywalker regarding her growing concerns about the direction of the Clone Wars, Padmé Amidala worried that the democracy they were fighting for no longer existed. Later, when Amidala stated that the Jedi Council was the bedrock of the Republic, he replied that its bedrock was democracy, something that the Council didn't like. After Anakin fell to the dark side of the Force and came to visit her, she wondered if democracy was something that was now in the past.

As Palpatine gave a speech swearing himself in as Galactic Emperor, he declared "Now is the time! Now we will strike back! Now we will destroy the destroyers! Death to the enemies of democracy!"[2]

Behind the scenes[]

The concept of democracy, in particular their relation to dictatorships played a large role in the creation of the prequel trilogy for Star Wars, and to a lesser extent the original trilogy. George Lucas, when discussing the political elements behind Attack of the Clones, explained that, due to his upbringing in the 1960s, he saw it as democracies devolving into dictatorships due to their being voted in by the people, and cited examples in history such as Julius Caesar regarding the Roman Republic, Napoleon Bonaparte regarding Revolutionary France, and Adolf Hitler regarding the Weimar Republic.[5] During the 2005 Cannes Film Festival showing of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas reiterated his statement, although he also implied that George W. Bush's War in Iraq was one of the first signs of the United States transforming from a democracy into a dictatorship.[6]


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Notes and references[]

  1. Star Wars: The Old Republic
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith novelization
  3. 3.0 3.1 Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
  4. Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
  5. Dark Victory on Time Magazine's website (archived)
    "I'm more on the liberal side of things," [George Lucas] says. "I grew up in San Francisco in the '60s, and my positions are sort of shaped by that ... If you look back 30 years ago, there were certain issues with the Kennedys, with Richard Nixon, that focused my interest." Lucas' own geopolitics can sound pretty bleak: "All democracies turn into dictatorships—but not by coup. The people give their democracy to a dictator, whether it's Julius Caesar or Napoleon or Adolf Hitler. Ultimately, the general population goes along with the idea ... What kinds of things push people and institutions into this direction?"
  6. Revenge of the Sith invites Bush Comparisons, page 2 on CBSNews.com
    "Lucas said he patterned his story after historical transformations from freedom to fascism, never figuring when he started his prequel trilogy in the late 1990s that current events might parallel his space fantasy.
    "As you go through history, I didn't think it was going to get quite this close. So it's just one of those recurring things," Lucas said at a Cannes news conference. "I hope this doesn't come true in our country.
    "Maybe the film will waken people to the situation," Lucas joked
    "When I wrote it, [the 2003 Iraq war] didn't exist," Lucas said, laughing.
    "We were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction. We didn't think of him as an enemy at that time. We were going after Iran and using him as our surrogate, just as we were doing in Vietnam. ... The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable."
    The prequel trilogy is based on a back-story outline Lucas created in the mid-1970s for the original three "Star Wars" movies, so the themes percolated out of the Vietnam War and the Nixon-Watergate era, he said.
    Lucas began researching how democracies can turn into dictatorships with full consent of the electorate.In ancient Rome, "why did the senate after killing Caesar turn around and give the government to his nephew?" Lucas said. "Why did France after they got rid of the king and that whole system turn around and give it to Napoleon? It's the same thing with Germany and Hitler.
    "You sort of see these recurring themes where a democracy turns itself into a dictatorship, and it always seems to happen kind of in the same way, with the same kinds of issues, and threats from the outside, needing more control. A democratic body, a senate, not being able to function properly because everybody's squabbling, there's corruption.""

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