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Galactic Republic (Star Wars)

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"The Republic is not what it once was. The Senate is full of greedy, squabbling delegates. There is no interest in the common good."

- Senator Palpatine

Galactic Republic'''
Form of Government Federal Republic
Official language Basic
Capital Coruscant
Head of Government Supreme Chancellor
Establishment c. 25,000 BBY
Dissolution 19 BBY
Currency Galactic Standard Credit (Republic Dataries)

The Galactic Republic was the name of the interplanetary government used in the fictional Star Wars universe prior to the establishment of the Galactic Empire.

Warning: Plot details follow.

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). It is said that its complete history would "fill a thousand libraries."

Regional government in the Republic was in the hands of elected monarchs for each planet, who had the power to appoint Senators to the Senate. There were also small elected assemblies to assist each monarch. The Senate was an enormous building containing many floating platforms, each of which contained several senators. Each platform in the senate represents a "sector" of the universe, with one senator from each planet in that sector. A liberal estimate would guess there are at least several thousand such platforms (and thus sectors represented) in the Galactic Senate. Along with the senators, the monarchs of the individual member planets apparently also had the power to vote in the Senate and introduce legislation. Interest groups such as the Trade Federation also revieved representation in the Senate.

The age requirement to hold office in the Republic was apparently quite low. Many politicians were elected while they were teenagers or even pre-teens.

The Republic was made up of about a million worlds. The Clone Wars, which occurred from 22 BBY to circa 20 BBY, was the first full scale war since the Republic formation (though 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).) It is not clear why these other wars are not considered "full scale" wars.

The Galactic Senate

Galactic Senate buildingEnlarge

Galactic Senate building

The main organ of the Republic was the Galactic Senate which featured several appointed senators from each member planet. The senators would then elect a Supreme Chancellor from amongst their ranks who would serve as the Republic's head of government (there seems to be no head of state) and chief diplomat. Based on the films, we can see that the Senate follows pseudo-parliamentary rules. In Episode One, Supreme Chancellor Valorum is forced out of office by the Senate in a Motion of No Confidence, introduced by Queen Amidala of Naboo.

The history of the Republic Senate dates back to the founding of the Republic and the Jedi Order, twenty-five millennia prior to the Battle of Yavin. The Senate served as the governing body of the Galactic Republic, while the Jedi Order served as its defenders. The Republic began as a mutual protection and economic alliance among a number of planets in the galactic core. 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.

Interior of the SenateEnlarge

Interior of the Senate

The original structure of the Republic apparently had direct representation from every member world and lasted some 24,000 years. This meant that there would have been millions of Senators, a rather unwieldy proposition to seat and organize. Approximately 1,000 years before the movies, the Ruusan Reformation rebuilt the structure of the Republic, in this case changing Senatorial representation to the sector level.

The Senate grew with the Republic Ö in the early days of the Republic, each delegation represented a single member world, and then an entire planetary system. When the number of member worlds, and therefore the number of delegations, became too large for the Senate to be effective, member worlds were organized into sectors of fifty inhabited star systems, each sending one 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.

Since the Republic was founded on democratic principles, each member delegation, no matter how large or small, important or unimportant, received one vote in all matters, procedural and substantive. All delegations were part of the full Senate assembly, of which the Supreme Chancellor, elected by the delegations, presided. 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.

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 Supreme 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 was based on non-binding constitutional conventions, which were often ignored and undermined by corrupt and power-hungry politicians. Another weakness was its extremely centralized structure; it appears that even minor regional conflicts (such as the illegal blockade of Naboo) have no recourse but to appeal directly to the Galactic Senate.

The senator of the [[Trade FederationEnlarge

The senator of the [[Trade Federation

has "the floor".]] 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 Supreme Chancellors and a crisis involving the invasion of the planet Naboo by the Trade Federation over a tariff passed in the Senate, the time had come for strong leadership to end the corruption.

The End of Democracy

By the time of The Phantom Menace, the Republic was incredibly corrupt. Senator Palpatine of Naboo became the Supreme Chancellor in 32 BBY. Traditionally, the Chancellor could only have two 4-year terms, but Palpatine stayed in office much longer.

The Separatist 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.

Chancellor Palpatine was granted emergency powers in a motion led by Senator Binks to deal with the Confederacy and eventually declared himself Emperor of the galaxy at the end of the Clone Wars. After millenia the Republic had ceased to exist.

Decades later, shortly before the Battle of Yavin, Palpatine dispersed the Imperial Senate and the last remnants of the Galactic Republic were swept away.

After the Galactic Civil War, the Galactic Republic was re-established as the New Republic. Following the establishment of the New Republic, the Galactic Republic was often referred to as the Old Republic.