- "If this body is not capable of action, I suggest new leadership is needed."
- ―Queen Amidala
The Galactic Republic Chancery election of 32 BBY was the last time a new Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic was chosen. The election was held after Chancellor Finis Valorum lost a Vote of No Confidence in the Galactic Senate due to the Republic's mishandling of the crisis on Naboo. Though Bail Antilles and Ainlee Teem were nominated as Valorum's successor, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to support then-Senator Palpatine of Naboo, at the time a relatively obscure figure. Though outside observers considered Palpatine's election to be a surprise, he had manipulated events (both in his public identity and in his secret role as Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith) to ensure not only that an early election would be held, but that he would win it. After winning the election, Palpatine led the galaxy as Chancellor and as Galactic Emperor for thirty-six years.
Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum, a member of the Core faction of Senators, had been elected to his position in 40 BBY, and re-elected in 36 BBY, largely due to the influence and fame of his family. He was widely accepted to be an honorable man who truly desired the best for the galaxy; however, his stated position of continuing Republic policies detrimental to major corporations, slow responses to developing situations, reliance on bureaucracy, and conservative nature angered many in the opposing Rim faction and even left many of his supporters doubtful of him. The rumor that Valorum was carrying out an affair with his Senior Administrative Aide, Sei Taria, no doubt also contributed to his plummeting support.
In 33 BBY, things finally came to a head. His role in the Yinchorri Uprising resulted in him ordering two Jedi to their deaths, and in the resulting negotiations for a blockade he had to use up his last political favors in convincing the Senate's core members to back his plan. The long delay before action was finally taken made him appear weak and caused his political career to dive in the eyes of the public.
A short while later, the Nebula Front destroyed a Trade Federation cargo ship over Dorvalla. The Senators of the Rim faction demanded that the restrictions on the large corporations arming themselves be lifted; Senator Palpatine, one of Valorum's closest advisers, recommended that Valorum concede, but at the cost of taxing the free-trade zones that, ironically, had been established by Valorum's father. This caused an uproar when Valorum announced "his" plan to the Galactic Senate; however, the situation was somewhat ameliorated when Palpatine suggested to the Senate his plans for a trade summit, to consist of representatives from the Senate, important commerce worlds, and the industrial groups.
The summit was set on the planet Eriadu, but was marked by disaster: prior to the summit, there was an attempt made on Coruscant to assassinate Valorum, while during the summit itself, the entire Trade Federation Directorate, minus Viceroy Nute Gunray, were murdered in a plan orchestrated by Palpatine. The summit ended prematurely with nothing decided, and in the end the Senate enacted the taxation without allowing for the corporations to arm themselves against pirate raids.
Shortly after the end of the summit, Senator Orn Free Taa, leader of the Rim faction and member of the Allocations and Financial Appropriations Committees, discovered that a large amount of aurodium stolen from the Trade Federation at Dorvalla by the Nebula Front had made its way into Valorum's bank account. This forced Bail Antilles, leader of Valorum's own Core faction and chairman of the Internal Activities Committee, to charge Valorum with corruption and bring him before the Supreme Court. This created a decisive shift in power in the Senate towards the Rim faction, which quickly passed measures prohibiting the Chancellor from using Jedi or the Judicial Forces without first informing and gaining consent of the Senate. Mas Amedda, a Senator of the Rim faction, was installed as Vice Chancellor at this time, in an effort to block any further proposals that Valorum or his faction might make.
While this was going on, Palpatine (in his Darth Sidious persona) had instructed the Trade Federation to arm themselves, and to blockade Naboo—to protest both the taxation and as an act of revenge against Palpatine, the Senator who had proposed the trade summit that had been so disastrous to the Federation. Shortly before the blockade, Naboo's King Ars Veruna had abdicated and then been assassinated, and was replaced by the young Padmé Amidala, who due to her inexperience, had given Palpatine carte blanche in his Senate conduct. He urged Valorum to intervene, but the Trade Federation Senator, Lott Dod, was able to stall any procedures, making Valorum look weaker and weaker with every passing moment.
After being personally contacted by Queen Amidala, Valorum secretly approached the Jedi Council and illegally requested that they send Jedi Knights to Naboo as ambassadors. This resulted in a landing of Trade Federation forces on the planet; however, the Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, were able to bring the Queen to Coruscant to address the Senate directly. Although she bore no ill will towards Valorum for his inaction, Palpatine informed her that he would take no further action and that, even though only a few months were left in his term, a new Chancellor would have to be elected immediately if Naboo were to be saved. The young Amidala deferred to Palpatine's greater experience, and upon addressing the Senate, called for a vote of no confidence in Valorum. It passed, and the election process began.
- "Bail Antilles remains the front-runner. Ironically, the crisis at Naboo has drawn the Core Worlds into a tighter circle. Where Antilles has always been in danger of being dismissed as the candidate most likely to follow in Valorum's footsteps, he is suddenly the darling of those advocating for strong, central authority."
- ―Darth Plagueis
As far back as Amedda's election to Vice Chair, Taa had decided on nominating Palpatine as the Rim faction's candidate, assuming that he could be counted on stopping Valorum's program of government interference. Despite stating what a surprise it was to be chosen, Palpatine had obviously been planning a run for the Chancery for some time; among the various elite of Galactic politics, the Galactic Corporate Policy League had pledged to support him in a bid for the highest office. Palpatine must have seen even more attractive to him now, as in Palpatine's own words, the situation would give him a large sympathy vote. Additionally, as an independent, many saw him as a compromise candidate who would avoid the extremes of politics, while others viewed him as a naïve and inexperienced puppet who could be controlled. As Palpatine was known as advocating changing policies and imagery on government property that offended nonhumans, and for avoiding conflict, he presumably appealed to nonhumans and pacifists; and as a Human Senator of a Human world that was being threatened by an aggressive nonhuman corporation, he presumably appealed to Humanocentrists, and anti-corporate campaigners.
Ainlee Teem, a Gran representative of Malastare, was also nominated. Due to his homeworld, he was presumably nominated by a rogue group of Rim factioneers who did not like supporting someone that was not even in their own party. He received the backing of the Corporate Policy League.
Finally, Bail Antilles, the Human Senator of Alderaan was the third candidate. He was no doubt selected to represent the Core faction that he led.
Election and aftermath
The factors favored Palpatine, and the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of him. Although by the time he had taken office the Naboo situation had already been resolved, he promised to reunite the disaffected among the people and restore the remembered glories of the Republic. Although his efforts at reform would be stymied (by his own design), he would win his re-election in 28 BBY, only to be given an unlimited tenure via a Constitutional amendment in 24 BBY at the onset of the Separatist Crisis.
Shortly after losing the vote, Antilles retired from the Senate and was replaced by his relative-through-marriage, Bail Organa. The Core faction would become Palpatine's prime seat of power despite winning the election as the Rim faction nominee. The Rim faction would also lose a lot of influence due to this and eventually the Clone Wars where many of its senators and planets seceded to join the CIS.
- Jedi Council: Acts of War (Run-up)
- Cloak of Deception (Run-up)
- Darth Plagueis
- Darth Plagueis audiobook
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace novelization (First appearance)
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace unabridged audiobook
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace junior novel
- "End Game"—Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace novelization (2012 edition) (Mentioned only)
- "Republic HoloNet News Special Inaugural Edition 16:5:241"—Star Wars Insider 84 (Mentioned only)
- The Farlander Papers (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope novel (First mentioned)
- Dark Empire Sourcebook
- Han Solo and the Corporate Sector Sourcebook
- Star Wars: Rebellion: Prima's Official Strategy Guide (Indirect mention only)
- The Essential Chronology
- Evil Never Dies: The Sith Dynasties
- The New Essential Chronology
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia (Indirect mention only)