[WARNING: This post contains POSSIBLE SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens]
As hard as it is to believe, we are just over two months away from the theatrical premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (at the time of writing this). There's only a short amount of time before our return trip to a galaxy far, far away, but fans are still eager to learn all they can about the project - since Disney/Lucasfilm has kept most key information firmly under wraps.
One of the things we do know about The Force Awakens is that it tells a story where the Galactic Civil War is still raging on 30 years after the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Galactic Empire's second Death Star. Why the two sides continue to be in the midst of a conflict (long after Emperor Palpatine died) will soon be explained... though now we may have information on how the galaxy came to be in this state.
Making Star Wars has a write-up that details the state of the galaxy heading into The Force Awakens (and Episode VIII for that matter). According to their sources, some time before the events of The Force Awakens, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) started to corrupt members of the Senate that was set up following Return of the Jedi. Apparently, some greedy politicians in the universe are drawn to Snoke, as they fondly recall the great wealth they had during the old times of the Imperial Senate (before Palpatine disbanded it).
As the First Order starts to rise, a treaty was signed to prevent the New Republic from attacking the group - as long as the First Order stayed in the Outer Rim territories (which are outside the Republic's jurisdiction). At the same time, General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) forms the Resistance in secret, as she is afraid one day the First Order will attack and wants to be prepared for such an event. However, by the end of the film, that treaty is broken due to the First Order's use of their new super weapon. The next chapter of the Galactic Civil War begins, with some Senators siding with Snoke, and other democracy.
Making Star Wars notes that it's unclear how much of this backstory will be shown on-screen (as opposed to alluded to in dialogue), but it does set up an intriguing political climate for the new films to explore. It makes sense to have some people not agree with the New Republic's way of doing things (especially if the old system was beneficial to certain individuals), and having the Republic be fractured should provide the Force Awakens narrative with more substance. Not only that, depicting the "good" side as one with inner fighting will provide characters like Leia with a new set of challenges.
Having Senators play any kind of role in a Star Wars film may invoke memories of the criticized Republic Senate hearing sequences from the prequels, but chances are things play out a little differently in the new films. The two Force Awakens trailers have showcased a good deal of fast-paced action (in typical Star Wars fashion), and the political maneuvering will probably just serve as subtext for the larger narrative. Director J.J. Abrams has been adamant about recapturing the magic of the original trilogy with The Force Awakens, so we doubt governmental procedures will have too big of a role to play.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: Making Star Wars