During the Clone Wars, the Galactic (Republic) Senate was slowly stripped of its powers in favor of the Supreme Chancellor (Palpatine). At the end of the Clone Wars, Palpatine transformed the Republic into the Empire and declared himself Emperor, but he did not disband the Senate immediately. Instead, it became the Imperial Senate.

What were the powers of the Imperial Senate? Did it still have legislative and executive powers (and perhaps even limited judicial powers) as the Galactic Senate did (albeit subject to the Emperor)? Did it have any level of control over the Imperial military? Or was it reduced to nothing more than a purely advisory council?

In Episode IV, Tarkin hints at the powers and functions of the Imperial Senate just before it was disbanded:

Tarkin: 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.

Tagge: That's impossible! How will the Emperor maintain control without the bureaucracy?

Tarkin: The regional governors now have direct control over territories. Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station.

This implies that the Imperial Senate somehow helped the Emperor maintain control via "bureaucracy", and that it had some control over Imperial territories. However, it also implies that there were regional governors who presumably had some control over Imperial territories as well. How did the Imperial Senate share power over Imperial territories with the regional governors?

  • Ultimate power?
    – Oni
    Feb 25, 2020 at 8:31
  • Since Palpatine disbanded the Imperial Senate in Star Wars IV: A New Hope, it is pretty much patent that the Imperial Senate was just a facade. You might want to read this: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/94552/…. However, I don't know which powers did the Imperial Senate retain, if any. But obviously Palpatine had the power to veto any decision made by the Imperial Senate.
    – IloneSP
    Feb 25, 2020 at 11:36
  • @Roberto I did read the question at your link. In fact, I'd already answered it and commented on it. :)
    – Null
    Feb 25, 2020 at 14:56
  • @Null Heh. You did even link that same question in your question. Didn't notice!
    – IloneSP
    Feb 25, 2020 at 17:23

1 Answer 1


The Imperial Senate was kept as a facade to hide the absolutist ruling of the Emperor. It still claimed to have legislative functions, but it actually had no authority.

From Wookieepedia:

Whereas the Galactic Senate had held both legislative and executive power, the Imperial Senate held only legislative power—though most of this power was in the hands of the Emperor, as he was the overall ultimate authority. Despite such, the Imperial Senate still held limited judicial authority, enough to try high ranking officials in the Empire and, possibly, handle cases tied into the Supreme Court. The Emperor allowed the Senate to provide him counsel in enacting new laws. It also had nominal oversight of the Imperial bureaucracy and worked on the Imperial budget. However, the Emperor made it clear that his judgments would be final: Imperial decrees would be issued without debates, court proceedings, or Senatorial overrides. The Emperor could also call and dismiss the Senate at will.

So, it was only a puppet, although not easy to control; later on some of the senators began working against the Empire, hence why it was eventually dissolved by Palpatine.

Although at the time of the Empire's formation a majority of senators were loyal to Palpatine, the Imperial Senate was still a prime (if often clandestine) source of resistance to Palpatine's authority, and despite its changes, came to be known as the "last remnants of the Old Republic." Certain Senators—many of whom later joined the Rebellion—were known for using the Senate as a platform to voice proposals attempting to moderate Palpatine's rule, although always under the guise of perfect loyalty, and some also proceeded to secretly give aid to the Rebel Alliance.

  • 1
    This is good information +1. However, Wookieepedia doesn't cite a source for the information about the Imperial Senate's powers so I can't accept this. If you can find a source (even Legends) for this information I will happily accept this answer.
    – Null
    May 21, 2015 at 21:52
  • Actually, -1 for the same reason as Null. Wookiepedia isn't canon, and there's a high chance that someone just made those paragraphs up "to explain 1 phrase in the film". May 21, 2015 at 23:16

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