The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Indonesian Politicians of all time. This list of famous Indonesian Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Indonesian Politicians.
With an HPI of 80.11, Sukarno is the most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 90 different languages on wikipedia.
Sukarno (; born Kusno Sosrodihardjo, Javanese: [kʊsnɔ]; 6 June 1901 – 21 June 1970) was an Indonesian politician who was the first president of Indonesia, serving from 1945 to 1967. Sukarno was the leader of the Indonesian struggle for independence from the Dutch Empire. He was a prominent leader of Indonesia's nationalist movement during the Dutch colonial period and spent over a decade under Dutch detention until released by the invading Japanese forces in World War II. Sukarno and his fellow nationalists collaborated to garner support for the Japanese war effort from the population, in exchange for Japanese aid in spreading nationalist ideas. Upon Japanese surrender, Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta declared Indonesian independence on 17 August 1945, and Sukarno was appointed as its president. He led Indonesians in resisting Dutch re-colonisation efforts via diplomatic and military means until the Dutch recognition of Indonesian independence in 1949. Author Pramoedya Ananta Toer once wrote, "Sukarno was the only Asian leader of the modern era able to unify people of such differing ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds without shedding a drop of blood."After a chaotic period of parliamentary democracy, Sukarno established an autocratic system called "Guided Democracy" in 1959 that successfully ended the instability and rebellions which were threatening the survival of the diverse and fractious country. The early 1960s saw Sukarno veering Indonesia to the left by providing support and protection to the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) to the irritation of the military and Islamists. He also embarked on a series of aggressive foreign policies under the rubric of anti-imperialism, with aid from the Soviet Union and China. The failure of the 30 September Movement in 1965 led to the destruction of the PKI with executions of its members and sympathisers in several massacres, with an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 dead. He was replaced in 1967 by one of his generals, Suharto, and remained under house arrest until his death in 1970.
With an HPI of 78.45, Suharto is the 2nd most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 92 different languages.
Suharto (; Indonesian pronunciation ; 8 June 1921 – 27 January 2008) was an Indonesian politician, and military general, who served as the second president of Indonesia, holding the office for 31 years, from the ousting of Sukarno in 1967 until his resignation in 1998. He was widely regarded by foreign observers as a dictator. However, the legacy of his 31-year rule, and his US$38 billion net worth is still debated at home and abroad.Suharto was born in a small village, Kemusuk, in the Godean area near the city of Yogyakarta, during the Dutch colonial era. He grew up in humble circumstances. His Javanese Muslim parents divorced not long after his birth, and he lived with foster parents for much of his childhood. During the Japanese occupation of Indonesia, Suharto served in Japanese-organised Indonesian security forces. Indonesia's independence struggle saw his joining the newly formed Indonesian Army. Suharto rose to the rank of major general following Indonesian independence. An attempted coup on 30 September and 1 October 1965 was "countered" by Suharto-led troops. According to the official history made by the army, this attempt was backed by the Communist Party of Indonesia. The army subsequently led an anti-communist purge and Suharto wrested power from Indonesia's founding president, Sukarno. He was appointed acting president in 1967 and elected president the following year. He then mounted a social campaign known as "de-Sukarnoization" to reduce the former president's influence. Support for Suharto's presidency was active throughout the 1970s and 1980s. By the 1990s, the New Order's authoritarianism and widespread corruption were a source of discontent and, following the 1997 Asian financial crisis which led to widespread unrest, he resigned in May 1998. Suharto died in 2008 and was given a state funeral. Under his "New Order" administration, Suharto constructed a strong, centralised and military-dominated government. An ability to maintain stability over a sprawling and diverse Indonesia and an avowedly anti-Communist stance won him the economic and diplomatic support of the West during the Cold War. For most of his presidency, Indonesia experienced significant industrialisation, economic growth, and improved levels of educational attainment.Plans to award National Hero status to Suharto are being considered by the Indonesian government and have been debated vigorously in Indonesia. According to Transparency International, Suharto is the most corrupt leader in modern history, having embezzled an alleged $15–35 billion during his rule.
With an HPI of 71.52, Abdurrahman Wahid is the 3rd most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 56 different languages.
Abdurrahman Wahid ( (listen) AHB-doo-RAHKH-mahn wah-HEED; born Abdurrahman ad-Dakhil; 7 September 1940 – 30 December 2009), colloquially known as Gus Dur (listen ), was an Indonesian Muslim religious and political leader who served as the fourth president of Indonesia from 1999 to 2001. The long-time president of the Nahdlatul Ulama and the founder of the National Awakening Party (PKB), Wahid was the first elected president of Indonesia after the resignation of Suharto in 1998. His popular nickname Gus Dur, is derived from Gus, a common honorific for a son of kyai, from short-form of bagus ('handsome lad' in Javanese language); and Dur, short-form of his name, Abdurrahman.
With an HPI of 71.48, B. J. Habibie is the 4th most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 55 different languages.
Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie (Indonesian: [baxaˈrudːin ˈjusuf haˈbibi] (listen); 25 June 1936 – 11 September 2019) was an Indonesian engineer and politician who was the third president of Indonesia from 1998 to 1999. Less than three months after his inauguration as the seventh vice president in March 1998, he succeeded Suharto who resigned after 31 years in office. His presidency is seen as a landmark and transition to the Reformation era. Upon becoming president, he liberalized Indonesia's press and political party laws, and held an early democratic election three years sooner than scheduled, which resulted in the end of his presidency. His 517-day presidency and 71-day vice presidency are the shortest in the country's history.
With an HPI of 71.47, Megawati Sukarnoputri is the 5th most famous Indonesian Politician. Her biography has been translated into 73 different languages.
Diah Permata Megawati Setiawati Sukarnoputri (Indonesian: [meɡawati sukarnɔputri] (listen); born 23 January 1947) is an Indonesian politician who served as the fifth president of Indonesia from 2001 to 2004. She previously served as the eighth vice president from 1999 to 2001. Megawati is Indonesia's first female president and the sixth woman to lead a Muslim-majority country. Megawati was the first Indonesian president to be born after Indonesia proclaimed its independence. After serving as vice president to Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati became president when Wahid was removed from office in 2001. She ran for re-election in the 2004 presidential election, but was defeated by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. She ran again in the 2009 presidential election, but Yudhoyono defeated her for a second time. She is the first and current (as of 2020) leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), one of Indonesia's largest political parties. She is the eldest daughter of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno.
With an HPI of 70.78, Joko Widodo is the 6th most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 87 different languages.
Joko Widodo (Indonesian pronunciation: [dʒɔkɔ widɔdɔ], born Mulyono, 21 June 1961), also known as Jokowi, is an Indonesian politician and businessman who is the 7th and current president of Indonesia. Elected in July 2014 as the first president not to come from an elite political or military background, he was previously the Mayor of Surakarta from 2005 to 2012, and the Governor of Jakarta from 2012 to 2014. Prior to his political career, he was a teak furniture businessman.He achieved national prominence in 2009 for his work as the Mayor of Surakarta. A member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), he was named as the party's candidate for the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial election, alongside Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (often known as Ahok) as his running mate. Defeating incumbent Fauzi Bowo, he took office in October 2012 and reinvigorated Jakartan politics, introducing publicised blusukan visits (unannounced spot checks) and improving the city's bureaucracy, reducing corruption in the process. He also introduced years-late programs to improve quality of life, including universal healthcare, dredging the city's main river to reduce flooding, and inaugurating the construction of the city's subway system.The PDI-P nominated Jokowi, who was already seen as a rising star in Indonesian politics, for the 2014 presidential election. Winning a majority of the popular vote, he was named president-elect on 22 July 2014, to bitter protest from his opponent Prabowo Subianto, who disputed the outcome and withdrew from the race before the count was completed. As president, Jokowi has primarily focused on infrastructure, introducing or restarting long-delayed programs to improve connectivity in the Indonesian archipelago. On foreign policy, his administration has emphasised "protecting Indonesia’s sovereignty", with the sinking of illegal foreign fishing vessels and the prioritising and scheduling of capital punishment for drug smugglers. The latter was despite intense representations and diplomatic protests from foreign powers including Australia and France. He was re-elected in 2019 for a second five-year term, again defeating Prabowo Subianto.
With an HPI of 70.33, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is the 7th most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 74 different languages.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (Javanese: [susiɭɔ b̥amb̥aŋ juɖ̥ɔjɔnɔ] (listen); born 9 September 1949), commonly referred to by his initials SBY, is an Indonesian politician and retired Army general who served as the sixth president of Indonesia from 2004 to 2014. He is a member of the Democratic Party and President of the Assembly and Chair of the Council of the Global Green Growth Institute. Yudhoyono was also the former Chairman of ASEAN due to Indonesia hosting the 18th and 19th ASEAN Summits. Yudhoyono won the 2004 presidential election—the first direct presidential election in Indonesia, defeating incumbent President Megawati Sukarnoputri. He was sworn into office on 20 October 2004, together with Jusuf Kalla as Vice-President. He ran for re-election in 2009 with Boediono as his running mate, and won with an outright majority of the votes in the first round of balloting; he was sworn in for a second term on 20 October 2009.
With an HPI of 68.59, Gajah Mada is the 8th most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.
Gajah Mada (c. 1290 – c. 1364) was, according to Javanese old manuscripts, poems and mythology, a powerful military leader and Mahapatih or (equal to) Prime Minister of the Indonesian Hindu empire of Majapahit, credited with bringing the empire to its peak of glory. He delivered an oath called Sumpah Palapa, in which he vowed to live ascetic (by not consuming food containing spices) until he had conquered all of the Southeast Asian archipelago of Nusantara for Majapahit. In modern Indonesia, he serves as an important national hero, a symbol of patriotism and national unity. During his reign the Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, became ingrained in the culture and worldview of the Javanese through the performing arts of wayang kulit (“leather puppets”).This account of his life, political career and administration was taken from several sources. Mainly Pararaton ("The Book of Kings"), the Nagarakretagama (a Javanese language epic poem dating from the 14th century), and inscriptions dating from the late 13th and early 14th century. The popular depiction of Gajah Mada in the media is actually an imagination of M. Yamin, in his book entitled "Gajah Mada: Pahlawan Persatuan Nusantara", first published in 1945. There is also another illustration about the figure of Gajah Mada, different from the M. Yamin's, which is the result of research at the University of Indonesia by archaeologist Agus Aris Munandar. He illustrated Gajah Mada as similar to Bima in wayang shadow puppet show, which has a transverse mustache. He is mostly shown bare-chested, wearing a sarong, and using a weapon in the form of a kris. Historical sources, in fact, does not support this. A Sundanese patih explained (written in the kidung Sundayana), that Gajah Mada wore golden embossed karambalangan (breastplate), armed with gold-layered spear, and with a shield full of diamond decoration.
With an HPI of 68.36, Mohammad Hatta is the 9th most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 33 different languages.
Mohammad Hatta (listen ;12 August 1902 – 14 March 1980) was an Indonesian politician who served as the country's first vice president. Known as "The Proclamator", he and a number of Indonesians, including the first president of Indonesia, Sukarno, fought for the independence of Indonesia from the Dutch. Hatta was born in Fort de Kock, Dutch East Indies (now Bukittinggi, Indonesia). After his early education, he studied in Dutch schools in the Dutch East Indies and studied in the Netherlands from 1921 until 1932. Hatta is often remembered as Bung Hatta (according to author Pramoedya Ananta Toer, "bung" is an affectionate title meaning "friend", used to be a way of addressing a person in a familiar way, as an alternative to the old-form "tuan", "mas" or "bang").
With an HPI of 66.90, Diponegoro is the 10th most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 26 different languages.
Prince Diponegoro (born Bendara Raden Mas Mustahar; later Bendara Raden Mas Antawirya) (11 November 1785 – 8 January 1855), also known as Dipanegara, was a Javanese prince who opposed the Dutch colonial rule. The eldest son of the Yogyakartan Sultan Hamengkubuwono III, he played an important role in the Java War between 1825 and 1830. After his defeat and capture, he was exiled to Makassar, where he died. His five-year struggle against the Dutch control of Java has become celebrated by Indonesians throughout the years, acting as a source of inspiration for the fighters in the Indonesian National Revolution and nationalism in modern-day Indonesia among others. He is a national hero in Indonesia.
Pantheon has 24 people classified as politicians born between 1290 and 1966. Of these 24, 8 (33.33%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Megawati Sukarnoputri, Joko Widodo, and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The most famous deceased politicians include Sukarno, Suharto, and Abdurrahman Wahid. As of October 2020, 6 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Ki Hajar Dewantara, Ma'ruf Amin, and Agus Salim.
1947 - Present
1961 - Present
1949 - Present
1942 - Present
1943 - Present
1951 - Present
1966 - Present
1965 - Present
1901 - 1970
1921 - 2008
1940 - 2009
1936 - 2019
1290 - 1364
1902 - 1980
1785 - 1855
1889 - 1959
1917 - 1984
1897 - 1949
1909 - 1966
1884 - 1954
Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 15 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.