FALL OF THE REPUBLIC
By the final days of the Republic, the Senate had become hampered by grinding bureaucracy and rampant corruption. When Queen Amidala addressed the Senate to protest the Trade Federation’s invasion of Naboo, the Trade Federation’s representative asked for proof of her allegations and suggested a commission be appointed to investigate the matter.
Naboo’s Senator Palpatine suggested that Amidala call for a vote of “no confidence” in Chancellor Valorum, leading to an election for a new chancellor. The post went to Palpatine, marking the beginning of his ascent to power.
A decade later, the Separatist Crisis left the Senate paralyzed, as star systems led by Count Dooku broke away from the Republic and prepared for war. Standing in for Senator Amidala, Naboo’s Representative Jar Jar Binks proposed granting Palpatine emergency powers. Jar Jar had unwittingly set dark events in motion.
During the Clone Wars, Palpatine ordered the mighty Zillo Beast brought to Coruscant from Malastare for study. The beast broke free of its restraints and rampaged across the planet to the Senate Building, where it grabbed Palpatine’s shuttle before being killed.
Another attack on the Senate was led by the notorious bounty hunter Cad Bane, who took several senators hostage. Bane bartered their lives for the release of the imprisoned criminal Ziro the Hutt.
The Clone Wars left the Senate split between supporters of the war and those who despaired at the death toll and feared the growing power of the galaxy’s military-industrial complex. Padmé opposed a bill to deregulate the Banking Clan, pushing instead for peace negotiations with the Separatists.
The peace negotiations led nowhere. First Separatist droids plunged Coruscant into darkness, and then Count Dooku angrily addressed the Senate, reporting that a Republic attack had killed Mina Bonteri, a Separatist senator who’d advocated for peace. Shadowy figures were determined to derail any attempt at stopping the war.
As the war ground on, Palpatine amassed further powers at the expense of the Senate. With the Separatists defeated, Palpatine declared that the Republic had been replaced by the First Galactic Empire, with himself as its ruler. Amidst the applause, some senators – including Bail Organa and Mon Mothma -- were secretly making plans to resist the new Emperor.
In a desperate attempt to stop the Sith from gaining control of the galaxy, Yoda battled Palpatine in the Senate chamber. But the revealed Sith Lord was too strong for the former Jedi grandmaster. Yoda was forced to flee, going into exile on Dagobah.
THE DARK TIMES
As the Empire expanded and tightened its grip on the galaxy’s star systems, some brave senators publicly opposed the Emperor on Coruscant. Behind the scenes, Organa and others were working to unite disconnected resistance movements into an Alliance dedicated to restoring the Republic.
GALACTIC CIVIL WAR
By the time the Rebellion began, the Senate’s power had been eroded, with regional governors appointed by the Emperor wielding more and more control over the galaxy’s people. With the Death Star nearly complete, the Emperor disbanded the Senate, confident that fear of the Death Star would silence dissent.
Scheming, powerful, and evil to the core, Darth Sidious restored the Sith and destroyed the Jedi Order. Living a double life, Sidious was in fact Palpatine, a Naboo Senator and phantom menace. He slowly manipulated the political system of the Galactic Republic until he was named Supreme Chancellor -- and eventually Emperor -- ruling the galaxy through fear and tyranny.
Padmé Amidala was a courageous, hopeful leader, serving as Queen and then Senator of Naboo -- and was also handy with a blaster. Despite her ideals and all she did for the cause of peace, her secret, forbidden marriage to Jedi Anakin Skywalker would prove to have dire consequences for the galaxy.
A clumsy, well-meaning Gungan outcast on Naboo, Jar Jar Binks struggled to prove his worth throughout his life. Putting his awkward past behind him, Jar Jar left the swamps of Naboo to enter the even murkier waters of Coruscant politics, becoming a representative for his people in the galactic capital. There, his best intentions and eagerness to serve were exploited by scheming Senators and others in positions of power.
A well-meaning civil servant whose chancellorship was hampered by corruption in the Senate and bureaucratic snarls, Valorum secretly turned to the Jedi Knights for help breaking the Trade Federation's blockade of Naboo. But Valorum was betrayed by Naboo's Senator Palpatine, who maneuvered Queen Amidala into asking the Senate for a no-confidence vote in the Supreme Chancellor's leadership. A stunned Valorum was removed from office in favor of Palpatine.
Bail Organa, a member of Alderaan's royal family and the planet's representative to the Republic Senate, earned respect on Coruscant for his honesty and his commitment to justice. Prior to the Clone Wars, Bail served alongside Senator Padmé Amidala as a member of Chancellor Palpatine's Loyalist Committee. The two became close friends, and recruited like-minded allies to prevent Palpatine's alarming grabs for power. At the end of the war, Bail Organa adopted Padmé's daughter Leia and raised her as an Alderaanian princess. While representing Alderaan in the Imperial Senate, he worked secretly with allies such as Mon Mothma and Ahsoka Tano to assist rebel cells scattered across the galaxy, working towards the day that a unified Rebellion could emerge. Bail died when the Death Star destroyed his homeworld.
To hear Lott Dod tell it, the actions of Nute Gunray did not reflect the true intents of the Trade Federation, which remained loyal to the Galactic Republic. Sure, the Separatist Alliance did use Trade Federation starships and battle droids as part of their fighting forces in the Clone Wars, but this was equipment legitimately purchased in the open market. The Trade Federation was committed to commerce across the entire galaxy, and had no interest in getting caught up in territorial wars, Dodd would say. In truth, the Senator received a healthy income to ensure both sides of the war stay well equipped.