- "Now they will elect a new Chancellor, a strong Chancellor. One who will not let our tragedy continue."
- ―Sheev Palpatine, to Padmé Amidala
The Supreme Chancellor, also known as the High Chancellor or the Republic Chancellor, and rarely referred to as the chief of state, was the head of state and head of government of the Galactic Republic. The chancellor directed both the executive and legislative—the Office of the Chancellor and the Galactic Senate, respectively—branches of government and, during the Clone Wars, was Commander-in-Chief of the Republic Military. As leader of the Galactic Senate, the chancellor owned an office suite in the Senate Office Building located on the Republic capital world of Coruscant. The chancellor was elected through a majority vote by the senators that represented the various worlds throughout the galaxy. The Galactic Constitution limited the chancellery to a four-year term that was renewable once; as such, no one was permitted to serve as chancellor for a third term. The constitution allowed for a chancellor to be removed from office through a majority-based Vote of No Confidence.
The chancellor presided over the Senate throughout the era of the Republic, which lasted for approximately one thousand years prior to the rise of the Galactic Empire. By the time of the Naboo Crisis, the chancellery had become virtually powerless and hampered by bureaucratic procedure, corporate interests and rampant corruption in the Senate. Disillusioned with the state of the government, Queen Padmé Amidala successfully called on the Senate to remove Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum from office. Relying on a sympathy vote due to Naboo's predicament, one of the Queen's advisors, Senator Sheev Palpatine, was elected to succeed Valorum as Supreme Chancellor.
Chancellor Palpatine presided over the final years of the Republic, during which the constitution was amended due to the Separatist Crisis, allowing him to remain in office long after his second term ended. Pressured by the threat of open war for the first time in a thousand years, the Senate granted emergency powers to Palpatine at the expense of their own authority, effectively turning the chancellery into a dictatorship. At the height of the Clone Wars, the chancellor became even more powerful when the InterGalactic Banking Clan ceded control of its assets to the executive branch. Near the end of the war, Palpatine revealed his true identity as Darth Sidious, the Sith Lord who masterminded the conflict, to the Jedi Order. After the Jedi High Council attempted to arrest the chancellor, Palpatine decreed that all Jedi were enemies of the state, and therefore, subject to summary execution. With the Jedi removed as an obstacle and having gained unprecedented control over the Senate as well as the Supreme Court, Chancellor Palpatine proclaimed himself Emperor of the First Galactic Empire in 19 BBY. However, the title was assumed by Mon Mothma, leader of the Alliance to Restore the Republic, and officially restored by the New Republic.
- "If I may say so, Your Majesty, the Chancellor has little real power."
- ―Sheev Palpatine, to Padmé Amidala
The powers of the Supreme Chancellor were limited and hampered by the bureaucratic procedures of the Galactic Senate during the final years of the Galactic Republic. Nevertheless, it was in the chancellor's prerogative to issue executive orders to government officials for a number of reasons, including security.
Under the administration of Sheev Palpatine, the last chancellor of the Republic, the post gained greater authority through the emergency powers bestowed by the Senate in response to the secessionist movement of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. As head of state, Chancellor Palpatine also served as Commander-in-Chief of the newly-formed Republic Military. At the height of the Clone Wars, control of the InterGalactic Banking Clan was transferred to the Office of the Chancellor, making the chancellery more powerful than ever before.
- "Our best choice would be to push for the election of a stronger Supreme Chancellor, one who could control the bureaucrats, and give us justice."
- ―Sheev Palpatine, to Padmé Amidala
The title of Supreme Chancellor was given to the elected leader of the Galactic Senate of the Republic. Under the Galactic Constitution, the chancellor was limited to two four-year terms. Tarsus Valorum, a member of House Valorum, was the first Supreme Chancellor of the modern Galactic Republic centuries before the rise of the Empire.
At the height of the Republic Era, the Republic was led by Supreme Chancellor Lina Soh who envisioned a united galaxy under the Republic. The Jedi Order supported Chancellor Soh's expansionist policy by establishing Jedi way stations in the Outer Rim Territories.
Supreme Chancellor Chasen Piian resettled the endangered B'ankora species in the B'ankor Refuge sanctuary on the Republic capital planet Coruscant. Finis Valorum, a descendant of the first chancellor, served as an administrator in the government of Supreme Chancellor Skor Kalpana.
The Togruta politician Kirames Kaj was Supreme Chancellor approximately several years before the Invasion of Naboo. Around the same time, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn was invited to join the ranks of the Jedi High Council. Aside from the High Council and Jinn himself, only Chancellor Kaj knew about Jinn's candidacy. By then the candidates who were most likely to succeed the outgoing chancellor were Elissiar and Finis Valorum.
- "If this body is not capable of action, I suggest new leadership is needed. I move for a Vote of No Confidence in Chancellor Valorum's leadership."
- ―Padmé Amidala, to the Galactic Senate
Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum presided over a Senate that was perceived as highly corrupt and too bureaucratic to be an efficient government. Although he governed the Republic with good intentions, Valorum was seen as an ineffective civil servant whose reputation was tarnished by accusations of corruption. The Invasion of Naboo in 32 BBY compelled Queen Padmé Amidala to beseech Valorum for his support against the Trade Federation and its occupation of her homeworld, but the chancellor's ability to intervene was hampered by the bureaucratic procedures of the Senate. Senator Palpatine, Naboo's galactic representative and one of the queen's closest advisors, counseled the young monarch to call on the Senate to cast a Vote of No Confidence in Chancellor Valorum's leadership. Amidala did so after it became clear to her that, under Valorum, the Senate would debate the issue in a committee, allowing Naboo to remain under the Trade Federation's control indefinitely unless immediate action was taken.
Palpatine was nominated to succeed Valorum, as were the senators of Alderaan and Malastare, respectively Bail Antilles and Ainlee Teem. The occupation of Naboo generated widespread sympathy for Palpatine's homeworld; as a result, the senator of Naboo was elected to the office of Supreme Chancellor by the invasion's end. Although he vowed to restore integrity to the Senate, and to bring peace and prosperity to the Republic as a whole, Palpatine would in fact be the last Supreme Chancellor in galactic history.
- "I feel confident that our situation will create a strong sympathy vote for us. I will be chancellor."
- ―Sheev Palpatine, to Padmé Amidala
No one in the Senate knew that Sheev Palpatine was secretly Darth Sidious: the Dark Lord of the Sith. Sidious conspired to restore the Sith to power by taking control of the Republic and destroying its Jedi protectors. As Palpatine, he was a "political mastermind" who used a crisis to rally the citizens of the Republic under his leadership. He therefore orchestrated the invasion of his homeworld in order to gain support for his election as Supreme Chancellor. Sidious then engineered the Clone Wars—the first pan-galactic military conflict in a millennium—not only to remain in power despite the constitutional term limits of his office, but also to increase his executive authority as a wartime chancellor.
During the last days of the Separatist Crisis, Junior Representative Jar Jar Binks of Naboo proposed a motion that the Senate grant emergency powers to the Supreme Chancellor. Threatened by the Separatist Droid Army that the Jedi discovered on Geonosis, the Senate obliged the Gungan representative's request, giving Chancellor Palpatine the authority to unilaterally form the Grand Army of the Republic. Empowering the chancellor allowed the Republic to take possession of the clone troopers from Kamino without the Senate delaying the process. However, Binks' proposal had far reaching consequences that ultimately led to the fall of democracy and the rise of the fascist New Order.
With the Confederacy of Independent Systems under the leadership of Darth Tyranus, the Sith apprentice of Darth Sidious, Palpatine was able to control both sides of the conflict. He proclaimed his support for the Republic and its democratic principles, while at the same time, he ensured that his chancellery continued long after his term had expired. As the clone troopers and their Jedi Generals deployed across the galaxy to fight armies of battle droids, the War Council Advisory Panel briefed Palpatine every day during the war. In addition, Lobbyists implored the chancellor to deploy troops to favored worlds. Republic High Command only focused on strategic goals, while the chancellor would consider morale and politics. Even though this could cause friction between High Command and the Supreme Chancellor, the organization ultimately served at the pleasure of Palpatine.
The conflict with the Separatists helped to greatly expand the chancellor's authority with additional wartime powers, resulting in the marginalization of the Senate as Palpatine became dictator in all but name. By 19 BBY, the chancellery effectively controlled the Senate and the courts, the Republic Military, and the InterGalactic Banking Clan, which gave Palpatine the financial means to build an empire.
Upon learning that Palpatine and Sidious were one and the same, the Jedi Order attempted to apprehend the Sith Lord for his crimes, but ultimately failed due to betrayal by the fallen Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker. After declaring every Jedi an enemy of the state, Palpatine convened the Senate for his final address as chancellor: the Galactic Republic would be reorganized into the First Galactic Empire, with himself as absolute ruler of the galaxy, thereby marking the end of a thousand years of democracy. The office of Supreme Chancellor was subsequently replaced by the position of Galactic Emperor.
- "After Palpatine, nobody wanted to hand over that much power again, so we don't have an executive, only a chancellor with no real authority."
- ―Leia Organa
Despite the abolition of the Galactic Republic and the chancellorship, the title was preserved under the Alliance to Restore the Republic, a resistance movement that opposed the Empire. Senator Mon Mothma of Chandrila served as chancellor of the Alliance and retained the title under the New Republic, the Alliance's successor. Although the Charter of the Chancellor retained the emergency powers granted to the late Palpatine by the former Galactic Senate, Chancellor Mothma disapproved of additional war powers and intended to abolish them after the Galactic Senate reconvened on Chandrila.
By 28 ABY, almost three decades after the end of the Galactic Civil War, the chancellorship had been effectively reduced to the status of a figurehead devoid of executive authority. Senator Leia Organa, who once served in the Imperial Senate, observed that Palpatine's legacy as Supreme Chancellor had tainted the executive branch. The Senate accordingly took steps to neutralize the chancellor of the New Republic, having no desire to see another democratic head of state accumulate the emergency powers that allowed Palpatine to become a dictator. Lacking the charisma of Mon Mothma, the chancellors that succeeded her were deemed ineffective leaders, or even useless, according to Han Solo, due to the powerlessness of their office. As a result, the Centrists faction sought to replace the chancellorship with a stronger executive post, the First Senator, in hopes of promoting stronger leadership in the central government.
Style of office
- "As long as I live, no harm will ever come to you, Your Excellency."
- ―Anakin Skywalker, to Sheev Palpatine
Excellency was an honorific style used by Sheev Palpatine during his chancellorship. As such, he was occasionally addressed as "Your Excellency." In the Senate Chamber, Chancellor Valorum referred to himself as "the chair," not as "I."
- "Captain. If you must escort me home, I'm leaving now."
- ―Sheev Palpatine, to CT-7567
During the administration of Sheev Palpatine, the Supreme Executive of the galaxy resided in a private apartment complex at 500 Republica, an exclusive residential tower located in the prestigious Federal District of Coruscant. In addition to his private apartments, the Chancellor's Suite—a formal set of chambers of office located in the Senate Office Building—included a small accommodation suite where the chancellor could rest during periods of crisis that potentially required round-the-clock attention.
The chancellor could enter the suite through a concealed entrance from his office; there was also a hidden passage that allowed his aides to discreetly access this area. Unique to Palpatine was his frequent usage of the suite's offices, which included the Supreme Chancellor's public, ceremonial office, as well as a private office. The latter was maintained for Republic and Sith dealings.
- "Troubling is the treachery of the Senate Guard, Captain Argyus. Revealed all around us, our enemies are."
The Senate Guard was an elite security force entrusted with the safety of the Galactic Senate. In addition to protecting members of the Senate, the "Blue Guard," as they were informally known, served as personal bodyguards of the Supreme Chancellor. They also provided security for key government facilities, such as the Senate Building and the Senate Office Building, the latter containing the Chancellor's office. Though stationed on the capital world of Coruscant, the guards' protective mission included undertaking off-world assignments, in which they accompanied either the chancellor or senators who traveled across the galaxy representing the Republic.
The Red Guard was formed during Sheev Palpatine's chancellery, and was, therefore, entrusted with the safety of the chancellor alone. Throughout much of the Clone Wars, however, the Senate Guards continued to serve as Chancellor Palpatine's bodyguards, a responsibility shared with their elite counterparts, the Senate Commandos. During the Festival of Light, the Senate Guard coordinated the implementation of security operations with both the Coruscant Guard and the Jedi High Council.
However, the treasonous actions of Captain Faro Argyus revealed that the Republic was surrounded by enemies, even from within the Senate Guard. By the final months of the war, security for the chancellor was provided by Red Guards and Coruscant Guard clone shock troopers, and, instead of the Senate Guard, the clone shock troopers came to serve as the protection of government officials and buildings. In time, Palpatine did away the Senate Guard altogether, leaving its functions to be taken over by Imperial stormtroopers and the Royal Guard.
List of Supreme Chancellors
|Sometime after 1032 BBY||Tarsus Valorum|
|Sometime before 232 BBY||Digrenara|
|c. 232 BBY|
|Sometime after 131 BBY||Chasen Piian|
|Sometime during 85 BBY||Unidentified female Chancellor|
|Sometime before 44 BBY||Skor Kalpana|
|c. 44 BBY–40 BBY||Kirames Kaj|
|Sometime before 32 BBY||Skor Kalpana|
|Removed in 32 BBY|
|32 BBY–19 BBY|
Behind the scenes
The first mention of what would become known as the Supreme Chancellor was within the novelization of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. In the novel's prologue, it was stated that "the ambitious Senator Palpatine caused himself to be elected President of the Republic." Beginning with Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace in 1999, the title became canonically known as Supreme Chancellor.
Notes and references