player-run Galactic Senate is an interesting idea. The senate is comprised of 32 players, nominated by the player-base, but selected, in the end, by Sony Online Entertainment's community team, so it's not a completely democratic process.
And what can a senator do? They get to vote on "legislation" proposed by the SOE community team and can "request a redress of issues by the development team." Very nice -- and an interesting implementation of direct player interaction with the development team. In World of Warcraft, I suppose the system does work similarly -- enough reasonable player complaints on on the forums will get the attention of the CMs who will be able to bring up issues with the developers. And with SOE selecting the senators, they may have no more overall influence than our own forum posters.