The Imperial Senate is a political institution for the governance of the Empire. It is comprised of 1,000 Senators. They answer only to the Emperor. Most Senators sit virtually in the Senate House which is near the Imperial Palace on Capitol.
Senators of the Imperial Senate regularly discuss and vote on important issues of the Empire. They also enforce the Emperor's laws. The Leader of the House runs the Senate hearings when the Emperor and Chancellor are not present. The Senate has legislative, judicial and electoral powers.
All Senators and the Emperor can sit in the Imperial Senate, but it is rare that all participate at the same time. The Senators represent a group of Patrons, who in turn represent Clients, and each of those represents a group of Citizens. This representation is public. Anyone can see who is currently supporting each Senator (Patron, Client), and their numbers.
Every Imperial Citizen has a right to representation by a Client. Every Client has a right to be represented by a Patron, and every Patron a Senator. Senators generally represent power bases – which can be many star systems or a specific interest group, and typically many hundred Patrons – though it is up to the Senator how many Patrons they have. There is not a fixed number. So if a system has just one Imperial Citizen living there, they will have representation in the Senate – but most likely only indirectly through their Patrons. It is likely there is a Patron at the head of each of the larger Imperial Minor Factions for example, but not a Senator.
The Senate is structurally flat by law, but in practice has power blocks within it. It's led by the more important, powerful Senators. So not all Senators are equal. There are regular votes on issues of the day, and the Senator’s voting power is the total number of Citizens they currently represent. Citizens are represented by Clients, and blocks of Clients by Patrons who are represented by a Senator. The most powerful Senators can have a hundred or more times the voting power than others, and a Senate majority can be just a few of the major Senators. Honour requires that the views of all Senators are listened to politely before voting against them.
How much power the Senate holds relative to the Emperor has varied over time. For example, during the long illness of Emperor Hesketh Duval the Senate grew in power, until his son Hengist Duval took the throne after Hesketh's death. If the Emperor is unable and wills it, then the Chancellor can rule in the Emperor's stead.
The legitimacy of an emperor depends on the recognition by the Senate. When the emperor is deceased and there is not a clear line of succession to the Imperial Throne then the Imperial Senate must elect a suitable candidate as the new emperor. The set of rules are based on ancient laws and tradition that must be followed: the candidate must be of royal blood or of royal marriage with the House of Duval, chosen in one month with a clear majority backing of the Senate in the final count of the election.
- The word senate is derived from the Latin word senex, which means "old man." Thus the word means "assembly of elders".