Was Palpatine an effective ruler

Was Palpatine an effective ruler?

I have the most recent canonical novels Tarkin and Lords of the Sith which should give us a glimpse of the Empire as it is viewed by high-ranking Imperials who may know something about the Imperial economy and the state of various Imperial systems.

The emperor himself doesn't think life is great for ordinary citizens, but not much different from the republic:

Outside there were people who wished him dead, others who envied him, and others who just wanted to be close enough to feed themselves on the crumbs he brushed aside. The thought of it was almost enough to turn his disgust into sadness for the plight of the mundane.But the republic's miserable practices continued: corruption, decadence, greed for prestige. A penthouse in an elite building, a position that opened doors everywhere, collections of priceless art, the best groceries, the most capable servants ... He didn't need any of these, even as a senator, even as Supreme Chancellor. and subscribed to luxury only to satisfy youthful fantasies and, of course, because it was expected of him.

Tarkin , p.242

Most imperial systems did not complain about the transition from republic to empire, although there were some rebellions (just like the republic):

Chaos had reigned here and there since the Republic's consolidation into the new Galactic Empire. Most of the former republic accepted the empire without complaint, but there were many groups of resistance fighters and separatist remnants lurking across the galaxy.

Lords of the Sith , p.31

The empire expanded, suggesting a decent economy:

Shortly after the end of the war, naval intelligence was built on monads that once formed the strategic center of the republic. It was a hub for collecting and analyzing transmissions from all over the Ecumenopolis and from all sectors of the expanding empire received.

... As his empire swelled and brought more and more external systems into its fold , its power unfolded too, until every being in the galaxy was held captive in its dark embrace.

Tarkin , p.152, 242

And the Empire has a firm grip on the galaxy:

Eight years after the Clone Wars ravaged the galaxy, the Republic is no more and the Empire is on the rise. The man who rules as Emperor is secretly a Sith Lord, and with his mighty apprentice Darth Vader and all the resources of his vast Imperial war machine, he has the galaxy firmly under his heel.

Lords of the Sith , p.4

Former separatist worlds fared badly (in part as deliberate punishment by the empire). For example, the imperial ambassador in Murkhana points out that life on the planet is not good there (although Coruscant, the imperial capital, is doing fine):

[Tarkin] wasn't surprised to see that most of the city's charred, ruined buildings had yet to be demolished. Faced with sanctions, the local government was unable to stimulate the economy , and the vastly reduced population had been forced to rely on black marketeers for goods and resources.


“Maybe you two [Tarkin and Vader] didn't notice, but Murkhana isn't Coruscant. The people here hates me. I think Murkhana hates me sometimes. I am for everyone imperial tax hike and responsible for any minor change in the legal system.

Tarkin , p.107, 118

(Imperial tax increases aren't surprising - someone has to pay for these Death Stars.)

Other worlds like Ryloth have been exploited. This in some ways improved the imperial economy and improved the lives of those who benefited from the exploitation, although of course it made life worse for the rebellions exploited and encouraged by them. Some of the exploited people could improve their lives by partnering with the Empire:

The sight of Imperial ships sometimes angered the natives. So he left the daily police work of the city to a Twi'lek security force, composed of Twi'leks who distinguished themselves through better living conditions and payment for the enforcement of imperial rule against their own people.

Lords of the Sith , p.43

This description of Ryloth actually sounds pretty similar to the Nazi occupation of Europe during World War II.


Compared to the republic, the empire is characterized as more orderly (due to a more authoritative government and a more authoritarian military), with society being more stratified due to the increasing use of slavery. The imperial economy appears to be roughly the same as the republic, and corruption has persisted since the republic era. There are pockets of rebellion against the Empire, but the Republic has also been torn apart by separatists (admittedly, with a little help from the Sith).

Overall, Palpatine was an effective ruler in the sense that the economy remained stable, the empire could expand, and most systems accepted imperial rule without a fight.Palpatine was not effective in the sense that he had to use slavery and tax increases to fund the Empire, but he had no problem with such practices and still did not want to avoid them.


An expanding empire no more than often indicates a healthy economy, as history shows, expansion is an attempt to offset economic problems by overcoming new sources of income.

Zero ♦

@ Holger That's why I said it suggests an "adequate" economy.

Old cat

Wait a minute - why does the Empire have an ambassador on one of its? own Planets? Murkhana, if taxed, is an Imperial planet and should have a governor. This is as bad as the chosen queen.

Zero ♦

@DVK Simply because I do Tarkin and Lords of the Sith have read and owned, but I have neither read nor own A New Dawn .


@Null - nowhere is it as good as "Kenobi" - also by Miller - but worth a visit. In any case better than the ones later published by Disney ... {fails with unexplicit descriptions} like "Aftermath" or "Luke can't have a girlfriend". And there is a lot more material for this answer :)