The Most Famous

POLITICIANS from Indonesia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Indonesian Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 19,576 Politicians, 30 of which were born in Indonesia. This makes Indonesia the birth place of the 78th most number of Politicians behind New Zealand, and North Macedonia.

Top 10

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.

Photo of Sukarno

1. Sukarno (1901 - 1970)

With an HPI of 73.62, Sukarno is the most famous Indonesian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 100 different languages on wikipedia.

Sukarno ( soo-KAR-noh, Indonesian: [suˈkarno]; born Koesno Sosrodihardjo, Javanese: [ˈkʊs.nɔ sɔ.srɔ.di.har.dʒɔ], 6 June 1901 – 21 June 1970) was an Indonesian statesman, orator, revolutionary, and nationalist 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 colonialists. He was a prominent leader of Indonesia's nationalist movement during the 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 president. He led the Indonesian resistance to Dutch re-colonisation efforts via diplomatic and military means until the Dutch recognition of Indonesian independence in 1949. As a result, he was given the title "Father of Proclamation".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. In the early 1960s Sukarno embarked on a series of aggressive foreign policies under the rubric of anti-imperialism and personally championed the Non-Aligned Movement. These developments led to increasing friction with the West and closer relations with the USSR. After the events surrounding the 30 September Movement of 1965, the military general Suharto largely took control of the country in a Western-backed military overthrow of the Sukarno-led government. This was followed by repression of real and perceived leftists, including executions of Communist party members and suspected sympathisers in several massacres with support from the CIA and British intelligence services, resulting in an estimated 500,000 to over 1,000,000 deaths. In 1967, Suharto officially assumed the presidency, replacing Sukarno, who remained under house arrest until his death in 1970. His eldest daughter Megawati Sukarnoputri, who was born during her father's rule in 1947, later served as the fifth president of Indonesia from 2001 to 2004.

Photo of Suharto

2. Suharto (1921 - 2008)

With an HPI of 72.76, Suharto is the 2nd most famous Indonesian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 101 different languages.

Suharto ( soo-HAR-toh, Indonesian: [suˈharto] ; 8 June 1921 – 27 January 2008) was an Indonesian military officer and politician, who served as the second and the longest serving president of Indonesia. Widely regarded as a military dictator by international observers, Suharto led Indonesia as an authoritarian regime from the fall of his predecessor Sukarno in 1967 until his resignation in 1998 following nationwide unrest. His 31-year dictatorship is considered one of the most brutal and corrupt of the 20th century.Suharto was born in the small village of 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 era, Suharto served in the Japanese-organized Indonesian security forces. During Indonesia's independence struggle, he joined the newly formed Indonesian Army. There, Suharto rose to the rank of major general some time after full Indonesian independence was achieved. An attempted coup on 30 September and 1 October 1965 was countered by Suharto-led troops. According to official reports, this attempt was backed by the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI). The army subsequently led a nationwide violent 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. Suharto ordered an invasion of East Timor in 1975, followed by a deadly 23-year occupation of the country. Support for Suharto's presidency was active throughout the 1970s and 1980s. By the 1990s, the New Order's increasing 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 January 2008 and was given a state funeral. Under his "New Order" administration, Suharto constructed a strong, centralised and military-dominated government. What started as an oligarchic military dictatorship evolved into a personalistic authoritarian regime centered around Suharto. 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. As a result, he was given the title "Father of Development". According to Transparency International, Suharto was one of the most corrupt leaders in modern history, having embezzled an alleged US$15–35 billion during his rule.Suharto remains a controversial and divisive figure within the Indonesian general public. Many Indonesians have praised his New Order leadership for its economic development, rapid industrialization, and perceived political stability, while others have denounced his authoritarian rule and rampant corruption. Plans to award the status of National Hero to Suharto are being considered by the Indonesian government and have been debated vigorously in Indonesia.

Photo of Megawati Sukarnoputri

3. Megawati Sukarnoputri (b. 1947)

With an HPI of 68.39, Megawati Sukarnoputri is the 3rd most famous Indonesian Politician.  Her biography has been translated into 81 different languages.

Diah Permata Megawati Setiawati Sukarnoputri (Indonesian: [meɡawati sukarnɔputri] ; 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 Sukarnoputri is Indonesia's first and to date only female president and the fifth woman to lead a Muslim-majority country. She is also the first Indonesian president and as of 2023 the only vice president to be born after Indonesia proclaimed its independence in 1945. After serving as vice president to Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Sukarnoputri 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. Megawati Sukarnoputri was instrumental in creating the Corruption Eradication Commission, an agency task to combatting corruption in Indonesia. She also set up a general election system for the first time, in which the Indonesian people can directly elect the president and vice president, in addition to electing candidates for the legislature. As a result, she was given the title "Mother of Upholding the Constitution".She is the first and current 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.

Photo of Abdurrahman Wahid

4. Abdurrahman Wahid (1940 - 2009)

With an HPI of 66.03, Abdurrahman Wahid is the 4th most famous Indonesian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 62 different languages.

Abdurrahman Wahid ( AHB-doo-RAHKH-mahn wah-HEED; né ad-Dakhil, 7 September 1940 – 30 December 2009), though more colloquially known as Gus Dur (), was an Indonesian politician and Islamic religious leader who served as the fourth president of Indonesia, from his election in 1999 until he was removed from office in 2001. A long time leader within the Nahdlatul Ulama organization, he was the founder of the National Awakening Party (PKB). He was the son of Minister of Religious Affairs Wahid Hasyim, and the grandson of Nahdatul Ulama founder Hasyim Asy'ari. Due to a visual impairment caused by glaucoma, he was blind in the left eye and partially blind in his right eye. He was the first (and to date only) president of Indonesia to have had physical disabilities. President Abdurrahman Wahid was instrumental in lifting the ban on Chinese New Year (Indonesian: Imlek). Until 1998, the spiritual practice to celebrate the Chinese New Year by Chinese families was restricted specifically only inside of the Chinese house. This restriction is made by the New Order government through a Presidential Instruction No. 14 of 1967 signed by President Suharto. On 17 January 2000, the President Abdurrahman Wahid issued Presidential Decree No. 6 of 2000 to annul the previous instruction. He was also the one who established Confucianism as the sixth official religion in Indonesia in 2000 and the one who protected minority rights in Indonesia. As a result, he was given the title "Father of Pluralism".His popular nickname 'Gus Dur' is derived from Gus, a common honorific for a son of kyai, and from the short-form of bagus ('handsome lad' in Javanese); and Dur, short-form of his name, Abdurrahman.

Photo of Joko Widodo

5. Joko Widodo (b. 1961)

With an HPI of 66.00, Joko Widodo is the 5th most famous Indonesian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 102 different languages.

Joko Widodo (Indonesian: [dʒɔkɔ widɔdɔ]; born Mulyono, 21 June 1961), popularly known as Jokowi, is an Indonesian politician and businessman who is the seventh and current president of Indonesia. A member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), he was the country's first president to not emerge from the country's political or military elite. He previously served as governor of Jakarta from 2012 to 2014 and mayor of Surakarta from 2005 to 2012. Jokowi was born and raised in a riverside slum in Surakarta. He graduated from Gadjah Mada University in 1985, and married his wife, Iriana, a year later. He worked as a carpenter and a furniture exporter before being elected mayor of Surakarta in 2005. He achieved national prominence as mayor and was elected governor of Jakarta in 2012, with Basuki Tjahaja Purnama as vice governor. As governor, he reinvigorated local politics, introduced publicised blusukan visits (unannounced spot checks) and improved the city's bureaucracy, reducing corruption in the process. He also introduced years-late programs to improve quality of life, including universal healthcare, dredged the city's main river to reduce flooding, and inaugurated the construction of the city's subway system.In 2014, Jokowi was nominated as the PDI-P's candidate in that year's presidential election, choosing Jusuf Kalla as his running mate. Jokowi was elected over his opponent, Prabowo Subianto, who disputed the outcome of the election, and was inaugurated on 20 October 2014. Since taking office, Jokowi has focused on economic growth and infrastructure development as well as an ambitious health and education agenda. 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.

Photo of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

6. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (b. 1949)

With an HPI of 65.68, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is the 6th most famous Indonesian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 77 different languages.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (born 9 September 1949), commonly referred to as SBY, is an Indonesian politician and retired army general who served as the sixth president of Indonesia from 2004 to 2014 and the second Indonesian President from the military after Suharto. He founded the Democratic Party of Indonesia, he served as the 4th leader of the Democratic Party from 2014 until 2020, 8th and 10th Coordinating Minister of Politics and Security Affairs of Indonesia from 2000 until 2001, and again from 2001 until 2004. He also served as the president of the Assembly and chair of the Council of the Global Green Growth Institute. He was also the former chairman of ASEAN due to Indonesia's hosting of 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. During his tenure as president, Indonesia participated in many world peace missions, both at the national and international levels. Yudhoyono successfully negotiated a deal that ended the Aceh Insurgency, an Insurgency lasted from 1976 to 2005. As a result, he was given the title "Father of Peace".Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award (Champions of the Earth) in 2014.

Photo of B. J. Habibie

7. B. J. Habibie (1936 - 2019)

With an HPI of 64.25, B. J. Habibie is the 7th most famous Indonesian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 62 different languages.

Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie (Indonesian: [baxaˈrudːin ˈjusuf haˈbibi] , 25 June 1936 – 11 September 2019) was an Indonesian politician and engineer who served as 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 32 years in office. Originating from Sulawesi with Gorontalese-Javanese ancestry, his presidency was seen as a landmark and transition to the Reform era. Upon becoming president, he liberalized Indonesia's press and political party laws; ended Indonesian occupation of East Timor, which led to that country's independence; 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 were each the shortest in Indonesian history. Before entering government, Habibie contributed to the making of Indonesia's first domestic airplane, the IPTN N-250. As a result, he was granted the title "Father of Technology".

Photo of Prabowo Subianto

8. Prabowo Subianto (b. 1951)

With an HPI of 61.06, Prabowo Subianto is the 8th most famous Indonesian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

General (Ret.) Prabowo Subianto Djojohadikusumo (EYD: Prabowo Subianto Joyohadikusumo, born 17 October 1951) is an Indonesian politician, businessman and retired honorary army general who is the president-elect of Indonesia in the 2024 election. Prabowo is the third Indonesian President from the military after Suharto and Susilo Bambang Yudhyono. He currently serving as the Minister of Defense, he married the second daughter of the late President Soeharto, Titiek Suharto. In 1998, he was discharged from the military and subsequently banned from entering the United States for allegedly committing human rights abuses.Prabowo Subianto graduated from the Indonesian Military Academy in 1970 and mostly served in the Special Forces (Kopassus) until he was appointed to lead the Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) in 1998. He has been described as a right-wing nationalist.In early 2008, Prabowo's inner circle established the Gerindra Party. In the 2009 presidential election, he ran unsuccessfully for the vice presidency as Megawati Sukarnoputri's running mate. He contested the 2014 presidential election and was defeated by Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, which he initially disputed. He made another unsuccessful run for the presidency in 2019 with Sandiaga Uno as his running mate and with the support of Gerindra, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the National Mandate Party (PAN), the Democratic Party and Berkarya Party. His refusal to accept the result saw his followers stage protests that sparked deadly riots in Jakarta. However, after a heated contestation, Prabowo Subianto joined the cabinet as Minister of Defense for the 2019 to 2024 period.On 10 October 2021, Gerindra announced Prabowo Subianto as their candidate in the 2024 Indonesian presidential election. On 12 August 2022, Prabowo Subianto announced that he accepted Gerindra's nomination to contest the 2024 presidential election. Prabowo declared victory in the election on 14 February, as early unofficial polling showed him with a lead in the first round of voting. On March 20, the General Election Commission certified the results and declared him as the president-elect of Indonesia.

Photo of Mohammad Hatta

9. Mohammad Hatta (1902 - 1980)

With an HPI of 60.24, Mohammad Hatta is the 9th most famous Indonesian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.

Mohammad Hatta (; 12 August 1902 – 14 March 1980) was an Indonesian statesman, nationalist, and independence activist who served as the country's first vice president as well as the third prime minister. 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 Netherlands. Hatta was an important figure during the Indonesian national awakening and during the national revolution, as a youth he was politically active both in the Netherlands and the Indies, which led him to be imprisoned in the Boven Digoel concentration camp for his activism, he also played a crucial part in the proclamation of Indonesian independence, being second the person to sign the declaration besides Sukarno, thus naming him as one of the founders of Indonesia.

Photo of Gajah Mada

10. Gajah Mada (1290 - 1364)

With an HPI of 59.95, Gajah Mada is the 10th most famous Indonesian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Gajah Mada (c. 1290 – c. 1364), also known as Jirnnodhara, was a powerful military leader and mahapatih (the approximate equivalent of a modern prime minister) of the Javanese empire of Majapahit during the 14th century. He is credited in Old Javanese manuscripts, poems, and inscriptions with bringing the empire to its peak of glory.He delivered an oath called Sumpah Palapa, in which he vowed not to rest until he had conquered all of the Southeast Asian archipelago of Nusantara for Majapahit.: 363–364  During his reign, the Hindu epics, including the Rāmāyana and the Mahābhārata, became ingrained in the Javanese culture and worldview through the performing arts of wayang kulit (“leather puppets”). He is considered an important national hero in modern Indonesia, as well as a symbol of patriotism and national unity. Historical accounts of his life, political career, and administration are taken from several sources, mainly the Pararaton ("The Book of Kings"), the Nagarakretagama (a Javanese-language eulogy), and an inscription dating from the mid-14th century.

People

Pantheon has 33 people classified as Indonesian politicians born between 1290 and 1969. Of these 33, 13 (39.39%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Indonesian politicians include Megawati Sukarnoputri, Joko Widodo, and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The most famous deceased Indonesian politicians include Sukarno, Suharto, and Abdurrahman Wahid. As of April 2024, 3 new Indonesian politicians have been added to Pantheon including Hamengkubuwono X, Anies Baswedan, and Lilies Handayani.

Living Indonesian Politicians

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Deceased Indonesian Politicians

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Newly Added Indonesian Politicians (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 18 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.