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"[…] Since my ascension, I have allowed a convenient fiction to persist—that the Empire is merely a continuation of the Republic. The Imperial Senate remains—an illusion of many voices coming together to govern. In truth, there is only one voice. Mine."
―Sheev Palpatine[8]

The Imperial Senate, also referred to as the Galactic Senate, was the legislative assembly of the Galactic Empire that constituted one of the last remnants of the Old Republic. However in reality, the Imperial Senate held a purely consultative role and was to ensure the passage of any laws and legislation required by Emperor Sheev Palpatine.

At the end of the Clone Wars, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine transformed the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire, beginning an autocratic era. Palpatine as Emperor maintained the Galactic Senate as an illusion of constitutional legitimacy, however in truth it merely gave legal sanction to decisions already made by the Emperor. Many of the Imperial citizenry however believed that Palpatine was indeed restoring stability to the galaxy, after he vowed to end corruption in the Senate. In truth, this ploy was part of the Emperor's need to preserve order and by extension, allowing the Imperial Senate to continue until the Death Star was completed.

However, the Imperial Senate began to grow weaker as regional governors assumed more responsibility over their territories, with most decrees becoming repeatedly ignored by the Imperial Military. However, the Alliance to Restore the Republic against the Empire kept gaining a growing support, with some senators secretly supporting the rebel cause and did not hesitate to use their diplomatic immunity to help them, and some even became leaders of the growing Rebel Alliance.

After the Battle of Scarif and the capture of Senator Leia Organa of Alderaan, the Emperor used the incident to cast doubt unto the loyalty of the assembly over the princess's actions. As such, the Senate was dissolved, with its former prerogatives handed down to the governors and the military. In the aftermath of the Battle of Endor, former senators reconvened the Galactic Senate during the restoration of the Galactic Republic as the New Republic.

History[]

Establishment[]

"So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause."
―Padmé Amidala — (audio) Listen (file info)[2]
Proclamation-SWBC66

The proclamation of the New Order, a Galactic Empire, was issued to the thunderous applause of the newly established Imperial Senate.

At the end of the Clone Wars—which he had carefully masterminded—the Sith Lord known as Darth Sidious continued to use his public persona of Sheev Palpatine, the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. He ordered a special session of Congress and proclaimed himself Galactic Emperor, turning the old Republic into a New Order in his image. The representatives overwhelmingly supported the announcement, except for a few delegates, including Padmé Amidala and Bail Organa.[2]

In truth, Sidious intended to one day abolish the Senate, but he recognized his regime's institutions were not yet strong enough. Until the time was ready, Sidious would be forced to keep it in function, albeit only as an illusion of its former self; under Palpatine's rule, he was the only real man with any power, while the Senate's collection of voices held no real power.[8] In the wake of the regime change, the Galactic Senate became the Imperial Senate, and the Senate Plaza the Imperial Plaza.[1] Additionally, architectural and design changes would remove any trace of the former Republic, and a giant statue of the Emperor would be erected outside the Senate Rotunda.[9]

The first years[]

"This recruitment bill has been discussed, debated, and tabled each session for a reason. There are more pressing matters in the galaxy right now than the costly creation of a new military. The war is over."
―Tynnra Pamlo[10]
TynnraPamloSenate-TCC

The Imperial Senate continued into the Empire's new reign after the Clone Wars.

Making good on his vows to end corruption in the Senate, many citizenry believed that the Emperor was indeed restoring stability to the galaxy. Concurrently, many of Palpatine's political opponents suddenly began to vanish.[11] During the first year of the Imperial Era, individual senators were overly focused on helping their own worlds, which left the planet Kashyyyk undefended amongst the body when it was besieged by the Empire.[12]

Implied threats and a near-complete lack of trust would permeate among worlds, while the actual enactment of legislation would become an uncommon occurrence.[13] Prior to the mission to Ryloth, Instructor Pell Baylo sought to assassinate Palpatine, having remained loyal to Republic ideals instead of those of the new Empire. Speaking with the Emperor, he denied the idea that the Senate's approval gave legitimacy to the Empire, feeling that the Senate had dissolved its pact with the people of the Republic by allowing Palpatine to take over.[14]

In 9 BBY, Imperial Senator Daho Sejan, representative of the planet Utapau in the Senate, was interested in gaining more power. Using his position in the Imperial Senate, Sejan arranged for Jedi Knight Cal Kestis to be brought to him by his forces. Kestis was a target of great interest to the Empire, and Sejan intended to hand him over to the Emperor. Sejan's intentions went beyond Kestis, as he intended for Kestis to tell him where other surviving Jedi could be found. However, Sejan's plan completely failed, as Kestis faked capture in order to acquire Imperial military information that was in Sejan's possession. The events that followed Kestis' escape eventually led to the Senator's death.[15]

Ultimately, the Emperor preserved the Senate in order to make Imperial worlds believe that they still had a part to play in the government. Secretly, the Emperor planned to disband the Senate since the formation of the Empire in the proclamation of the New Order, but needed its body to preserve order until the Death Star was completed, from which he could rule absolute through sheer terror.[16]

Waning influence[]

"The Imperial Senate is only a shadow of what it was in the days of the Republic, but someday, I hope, it will be remembered as the cradle of an alliance that brought freedom back to the galaxy."
―Bail Organa, to Leia Organa[17]
Imperial Senator Mothma-Andor

The Imperial Senate's influence waned as the Emperor consolidated his rule over the galaxy.

By its fourteenth year of existence, the Imperial Senate started growing even weaker as the Emperor's regional governors assumed more responsibility over their territories.[18] Indeed, Palpatine actively worked to undermine the power of the Senate and strip away its remaining authority.[19] In 5 BBY, Imperial Senator Mon Mothma appeared before the Senate showing her support for a proposal made by Senator Dhow and tried to bring attention to the suffering of the people of Ghorman however the senate chamber had very few individuals present and most were looking at their datapads about the news of a rebel attack on Aldhani.[20]

Following the attack on on Aldahani, Palpatine proposed the Imperial Emergency Act to the Senate, which was eventually passed. The new act increased the authority of the Imperial Army, Imperial Navy and the Imperial Security Bureau with the ISB officers being allowed to request personnel and material from the army and navy and, with an increased focus in Supervisor responsibilities, were allowed to access data from sectors other than their their own. The act also saw the immediate revocation of local festivals and customs suspected of harbouring rebel activity as the rebels on Aldhani had used the Eye of Aldhani festival celebrations as a cover for their heist. Palpatine also proposed the Public Order Resentencing Directive to the Senate[21] which saw the sentences of Imperial prisoners doubled and extended the sentences of future convictions.[22] Both measures generated strong criticism from dissident senators such as Mon Mothma, who described the Directive as "the next step into an all too predictable march towards complete unchallenged authority."  Mothma's protests generated a certain amount of debate in the Senate, but both acts were eventually passed nonetheless.[19]

Arreyel-LeiaManga

In 3 BBY, the Apprentice Legislature was tricked into choosing the planet Arreyel for the location of a new Imperial Academy.

By 3 BBY, only forty planets bothered sending representatives to the Apprentice Legislature program—which began under the Galactic Republic and continued in the Imperial Senate though. Its decline in activity was parallel to the Senate's decline in actual power though Apprentice Legislator Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan viewed it as one of the few checkpoints on the Emperor's power.[17] At one point, a piece of legislation that would tighten up labor rights for refugees was presented in the Senate, with Leia arguing in its favor. The bill ultimately cost the chief operating officer of a major manufacturing hub on Coruscant billions, which resulted in that COO putting out a bounty on both Leia and Mon Mothma.[23]

The first debate of the Apprentice Legislature that year had them closing a location for a new Imperial Academy for aeronautical engineering and design. It chose the planet Arreyel, however this was a trap set by the Empire who wanted an excuse to drill into Arreyel so that they could gain control of the radiation source under its crust. The Apprentice Legislature received a special commendation for recommending the planet and the people of Arreyel were given six weeks to leave, with no compensation, as the Empire had begun planning to build planet wide factories there. Shortly after, the senator of Christophsis was arrested and sent to a Imperial work camps, as the Empire discovered that they were amongst those backing the rebels on the planet. Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin announced the arrests to the Imperial Senate and though many were angered by the actions, they clapped in order to protect their home worlds.[17]

Erosion of power[]

"If we can show them proof of such a weapon, Bail, the rest of the Senate will have to act."
"They should act, but that doesn't mean they will. For too many of them, ceding to the Emperor's will has become second nature."
"We must give them the opportunity."
"Of course."
"As long as the Senate stands, we must try diplomacy first. But we must also stand prepared for what comes after."
―Mon Mothma and Bail Organa[24]
Leia Imperial Senate

Princess Leia Organa represented Alderaan in the Imperial Senate while secretly supporting the Rebel Alliance.

Several senators, including Mon Mothma and Bail Organa, began attending strategy meetings, which were disguised as dinner parties, at the Royal Palace of Alderaan where they discussed ways to limit the Empire's power. While the Senate now only held a limited amount of influence, Organa hoped that it would be remembered for the alliances formed within it which would help to return freedom back to the galaxy and encouraged his daughter to form similar alliances within the Apprentice Legislature, which she attempted to do starting with Harp Allor of Chandrila, who she was in a pathfinding class with.[17]

Both Leia and her fellow Apprentice Legislator, Amilyn Holdo of Gatalenta helped the growing rebel Alliance evacuate from their base on Paucris Major after Leia had realised that the Empire knew of the base and was coming for her father and the other rebels stationed there. Leia and Holdo joined the rebellion shortly after.[17]

Nadea rebels

Senator Tural attempting to stop an execution of a group of rebels.

Some representatives, however, did not realize the extent of the Senate's powerlessness. Nadea Tural, senator of Thrad, was still under the impression that she made a difference by voting on important issues. Like many other senators, she assumed that, once the Senate's job was done, the result of a vote was passed into law. Little did Tural know that the Emperor did not actually implement the voted changes, leaving the senators to bask in their fruitless pride.[25]

Worst of all, as the Emperor was planning to shut down the Senate, the Imperial Military would not obey the laws of warfare they had put in place either. After the fall of the planet Lasan, the Senate banned the use of the T-7 ion disruptor rifle. However, the military ignored the Senate's decree and planned for the disruptors to be produced on Lothal,[26] and violated surrender protocols by destroying damaged transports[27] and unarmed civilian craft.[28] The Senate was also informed about the destruction of Jedha City by the Empire, and was told that it was caused by a mining disaster.[29] However, the Rebellion against the Empire kept gaining a growing support in that council. Certain senators, including Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, did not hesitate to use their diplomatic immunity to help the Alliance.[1]

Dissolution[]

"The Rebellion will continue to gain support in the Imperial Senate until—"
"The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I've just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away.
"
―Cassio Tagge and Wilhuff Tarkin[1]

The last straw for the Senate[1] came in 0 BBY,[30] when Senator Leia Organa attempted to smuggle the stolen plans for the Death Star, a moon-sized battle station that could destroy an entire planet. Organa's blockade runner was subsequently captured by Sith Lord Darth Vader, the Emperor's apprentice and right-hand man. Fearful of generating more sympathy for the Rebellion in the Senate, Vader ordered to send a false distress signal and then inform the senators that all aboard Organa's vessel had been killed. Shortly thereafter, the Emperor disbanded the Imperial Senate, passing direct control down to regional governors and the military.[1]

TaggeNeedsBureaucracy-ANH

Governor Wilhuff Tarkin announced the Imperial Senate's dissolution to his colleagues on the Death Star.

At the time of the Senate's dissolution, General Cassio Tagge was concerned that the Rebellion would continue to garner support in the Imperial Senate, until Governor Tarkin reported the Emperor's decree to the Joint Chiefs. Tarkin assured them that the governors would fill the power vacuum, and that the DS-1 Death Star Mobile Battle Station would generate fear across the galaxy, thereby keeping the star systems compliant to the Empire's authority.[1] Nadea Tural and a dozen other Rebel sympathizers in the Senate were arrested for their views and imprisoned in the Arrth-Eno Prison Complex on Coruscant. The Alliance made an attempt to both rescue those senators and assassinate the Emperor. Their plans, however, were thwarted, and all captive senators died.[31]

Legacy[]

"Need I remind the honorable members that Palpatine maintained the illusion of the Imperial Senate for nearly twenty years after the Old Republic's fall? A tyrant can make anything seem to be 'the will of the people.'"
―Leia Organa[13]
Mon Montha SWD 2018 World Champ alt art card

Mon Mothma founded the New Republic Senate.

After the Empire was defeated at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance reorganized into the New Republic and restored the Imperial Senate as the Galactic Senate based on the Old Republic Senate, on the planet Chandrila.[6] Led by the ideals of unity, accountability, and legality, the Senate strove to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, and attempted to curb the powers of the Chancellor to avoid creating another Emperor. Nonetheless, following the retirement of Mon Mothma, the Senate would split into two factions, the Centrists and the Populists, a political divide that would threaten to undermine the New Republic's egalitarian philosophy, all while an Imperial successor regime grew on the fringes of the galaxy.[13]

Rella Sol, a pilot in the Imperial Navy's Titan Squadron and child of two former Imperial senators, was one of the few in the Empire who felt that the dissolution of the Senate was a foolhardy action by the Emperor, feeling that it would have been able to keep order in the wake of the Battle of Endor had it still existed.[32]

Organization[]

"I'm a well-respected member of the Senate. The issues I have voted on are of vital importance to the citizens of the Empire."
―Nadea Tural[25]

The Imperial Senate was led by the Galactic Emperor, self-appointed for a life term[2] under his own power and jurisdiction.[33] The Emperor had ultimate authority over the Senate as well as the Empire, and could state his support or objection over laws and legislation, although he technically lacked the power to enforce these against an overwhelming majority of objecting senators. He nevertheless could take the board at any given time and give a speech before the Senate, to which all senators currently recognized by the Vice Chair had to cede; the Emperor's arrival to the chamber would be announced by a loud horn.[3] He also had the authority to propose his own legislation as Palpatine did with the PORD and the Imperial Emergency Act.[21] Additionally, only he had the power to pass voted issues into law—which he usually did not.[25]

The Vice Chair regulated all sessions and meetings similarly to the position of the same name under the Galactic Senate; at the time of the early Imperial Era the role was fulfilled by Grand Vizier Mas Amedda[3] although by 5 BBY he was missing from most sessions as the Senate gradually lost its power.[20] The Vizier had the authority to have any members of the Senate arrested at any time, even mid-session, could call for order, and expel disorderly Senators and would accompany the Emperor in his addresses.[3] Per ancient tradition, each session of the senate was brought to order by either the Oathkeeper or the Speaker, also known as the Grand Vizier.[34]

Powers[]

"Senator Dhow's proposal is both temperate and timely, far more reasoned and thoughtful than the calls for decree we've been hearing from the other side."
―Mon Mothma[20]

In basic theory, the Imperial Senate held legislative powers. Although the senators regularly voted issues in the name of the people they represented, only the Emperor had the power to actually pass those votes into law.[25] Although Palpatine rarely appeared at proceedings,[9] very few senators dared to demand answers in the Senate chamber, lest they be reprimanded, or even silenced. While senators enjoyed diplomatic immunity,[35] they did not have the right to contest an execution order given by a military commander, especially in matters relating to treason.[25]

By 5 BBY the Senate's lack of power had become apparent: sessions were sparsely attended and even many senators who did attend the meetings were largely indifferent or hostile to the few representatives who still dared to question Imperial authority, like Mon Mothma or Bail Organa. Emperor Palpatine rarely appeared in front of the assembly and other imperial authorities such as Grand Vizier Mas Amedda or Chief of Staff Sly Moore also did not usually bother to participate in the Senate's works, knowing how powerless it had become.[20] The Apprentice Legislator program had also fallen into near irrelevance, with only 40 star systems still sending representatives to it.[17]

With certain senators eager to uncover if the Imperial Navy was engaging in war crimes, Imperial Naval Regulation 132.CAT.ch(22) maintained that, should a gunnery captain order their gunners to destroy an escape pod, they needed to fill out Form XTM-51-CT to explain to the Senate why the decision was made. The regulation had an in-built exception for any active battle with an intensity above Category V, enabling officers to order the destruction of escape pods without concern in such cases.[36]

Senate-related documents[]

The following are documents passed by the Imperial Senate or relating to its functioning:

Appearances[]

Sources[]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 TBBtemplate Star Wars: The Bad Batch — "Truth and Consequences"
  4. Star Wars: Smuggler's Guide
  5. StarWarsLCG Logo Star Wars: The Card GameA Wretched Hive (Card: Imperial Senate Guard) (backup link)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Aftermath
  7. Lost Stars
  8. 8.0 8.1 Darth Vader (2017) 13
  9. 9.0 9.1 Tarkin
  10. TBBtemplate Star Wars: The Bad Batch — "The Clone Conspiracy"
  11. Ultimate Star Wars
  12. Ahsoka
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Bloodline
  14. SWInsider "Orientation" — Star Wars Insider 157
  15. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
  16. Darth Vader (2015) 1
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 Leia, Princess of Alderaan
  18. Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide
  19. 19.0 19.1 Andor logo new Andor — "Nobody's Listening!"
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Andor logo new Andor — "The Eye"
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Andor logo new Andor — "Announcement"
  22. Andor logo new Andor — "Narkina 5"
  23. The Princess and the Scoundrel
  24. Rogue One Adaptation 1
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 SWRM "Senate Perspective" — Star Wars Rebels Magazine 9
  26. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Droids in Distress"
  27. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "The Antilles Extraction"
  28. Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide
  29. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  30. Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
  31. Star Wars Annual (2015) 1
  32. Star Wars: Squadrons
  33. StarWars-DatabankII Galactic Empire in the Databank (backup link)
  34. Dawn of Rebellion
  35. A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy
  36. "The Sith of Datawork" — From a Certain Point of View
  37. StarWars-DatabankII Imperial Defense Recruitment Bill in the Databank (backup link)
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