The events at the end of The Force Awakens leave the galaxy far far away in new uncharted state of affairs. Before the start of The Force Awakens the Galaxy was in a holding pattern. The remnants of the Empire had retreated to the Outer Rim Territories and uncharted areas and reorganized into the First Order. The Republic had a non-aggression treaty with the Empire/First Order that allowed them to rebuild the damage caused by the Empire and the war between the Rebellion and Empire.
Political situation before TFA
From the before the awakening novels and the novelization of the movie we can learn a few things and guess a few more. The Republic downsized their military by 90% once the treaty was signed. This did, however, still leave them with a sizable fleet that would be able to provide an effective defense against any attack from the First Order. This, of course, was dependent on the First Order sticking to the the treaty and not increasing their own fleet and military capabilities. Moreover, the location of the capital is no longer Coruscant, but it is Hosnian Prime. It seems that the location of the capitals voted on, and is rotated from place to place, and was just on Hosnian Prime up until the events of TFA.
The Resistance is separate from the Republic and essentially a private military organization almost like a well-funded militia. Leia formed the Resistance to counter the First Order and their military. They are supported by members of the Republic, but not all. There are some elements of the Republic that would be happier if Leia was no longer around as they believe she is either blowing the threat out of proportion or actively antagonizing the First Order with the Resistance. There may even be some that are supporting the First Order from behind the scenes. The Resistance is no larger a force than the Rebellion was at the start of ANH.
The First Order has been actively building their military and fleet in direct violation of the Treaty for at minimum 20 years, but probably closer to 30. We can be reasonably sure of this based on Finn’s age and the fact that he was taken before he had a name he can remember. Snoke is the leader of the First Order and operates from a mobile command post leading us to believe that the First Order doesn’t operate in the same manor as the Empire did and in fact is more like how the rebellion operated. We believe they have been able to hide their forces and fleet by keeping it moving. This includes Starkiller base which is mobile.
In the novelization, Kylo Ren explains how he views the First Order (via Business Insider):
“It is the task of the First Order to remove the disorder from our own existence, so that civilization may be returned to the stability that promotes progress. A stability that existed under the Empire, was reduced to anarchy by the Rebellion, was inherited in turn by the so-called Republic, and will be restored by us. Future historians will look upon this as the time when a strong hand brought the rule of law back to civilization.”
Where are we after TFA
The events of TFA have severely changed how the galaxy is organized. First, after the destruction of Hosnian Prime by the Starkiller base, essentially every Senator has been killed and most of the Republic fleet, if not all of it, has been destroyed. While this does not mean the Republic is destroyed it is without a doubt unable to make war. The Resistance will have to continue to be the military for the Republic. There will no doubt be a larger political angle in the next movie and I suspect that the force within the Republic that supported Leia will be louder as will those that were opposed to her actions. It is likely the target that was on her back has now doubled. However, the planets that do support Leia will offer their support with solders, weapons, money, and ships which means the Resistance will grow even though they lost half their fleet in the Starkiller Base attack.
The First Order is harder to determine how weakened they are by the destruction of Starkiller Base. We suspect they lost at least a third of their trained forces if not more. Even with the loss of this they are still in better shape than the Republic and Resistance combined and have ended up with an overall net gain even if they did not gain complete control as they wanted. This means our heroes are in a familiar situation being the underdogs in a war against the Darkside. Snoke will likely take a more active role in the direction of the First Order to drive home the image of strength and power.
Certainl, a power vacuum has been made. The question is, how will it be filled?
There are two other groups we have not touched on and will likely play a much larger role in galaxy in the upcoming films, Jedi and Knights of Ren. Luke has a new apprentice in Rey and I suspect that she will be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new Jedi. Perhaps Finn will join her or one of the new members of the cast will also become Jedi, but I doubt Rey and Luke will be the ones fighting using the lightside of the force. Next we have there Knights of Ren. Kylo is known as the master of the Knight of Ren and they will most likely step up to fill gaps from the lost troops. We suspect that Benico del Toro will be part of the Knights. Perhaps he will play an underling of Snoke that wants to challenge Kylo. These two groups will greatly affect the overall ability of the Resistance and First Order to win battles and ultimately the war.