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 73.20, Sukarno is the most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 94 different languages on wikipedia.
Sukarno (; born Koesno Sosrodihardjo, Javanese: [kʊsnɔ]; 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. 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. 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.
With an HPI of 71.78, Suharto is the 2nd most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 96 different languages.
Suharto (; Indonesian pronunciation ; 8 June 1921 – 27 January 2008) was an Indonesian army 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 for 31 years, from the fall of his predecessor Sukarno in 1967 until his own resignation in 1998 following a nationwide unrest. 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 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 the official history made by the army, 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. Plans to award the status of National Hero to Suharto are being considered by the Indonesian government and have been debated vigorously in Indonesia. 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.
With an HPI of 63.29, B. J. Habibie is the 3rd most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 56 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 was 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 were the shortest in the country's history.
With an HPI of 63.22, Joko Widodo is the 4th most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 96 different languages.
Joko Widodo (Indonesian: [dʒɔkɔ widɔdɔ]; born 21 June 1961), popularly known as Jokowi, is an Indonesian politician and businessman who is the 7th 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 have emerged 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 his deputy. 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, he 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.
With an HPI of 63.16, Megawati Sukarnoputri is the 5th most famous Indonesian Politician. Her biography has been translated into 76 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. She is also the first Indonesian president and as of 2021 the only vice president to be born after Indonesia proclaimed its independence in 1945. 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 2021) 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 62.06, Abdurrahman Wahid is the 6th most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.
Abdurrahman Wahid ( (listen) AHB-doo-RAHKH-mahn wah-HEED; born Abdurrahman ad-Dakhil; 7 September 1940 – 30 December 2009), though more colloquially known as Gus Dur (listen ), was an Indonesian politician and Islamic religious leader who served as the 4th president of Indonesia, from his election in 1999 until his removal from power 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. He had a visual impairment caused by glaucoma. He was blind on the left eye and partially blind on his right eye. He was the first and as of 2022 the only president of Indonesia to have had physical disabilities. 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.
With an HPI of 61.50, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is the 7th most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 75 different languages.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (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. A member of 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. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award (Champions of the Earth) in 2014.
With an HPI of 58.98, Gajah Mada is the 8th most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 26 different languages.
Gajah Mada (c. 1290 – c. 1364), also known as Jirnnodhara was, according to Old Javanese manuscripts, poems, and inscriptions, 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 with bringing the empire to its peak of glory.He delivered an oath called Sumpah Palapa, in which he vowed to live an ascetic lifestyle (by not consuming food containing spices) until he had conquered all of the Southeast Asian archipelago of Nusantara for Majapahit. During his reign, the Hindu epics, including the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, 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 Pararaton ("The Book of Kings"), the Nagarakretagama (a Javanese-language eulogy), and an inscription dating from the mid 14th century.
With an HPI of 58.77, Mohammad Hatta is the 9th most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.
Mohammad Hatta (listen ; 12 August 1902 – 14 March 1980) was an Indonesian statesman and nationalist 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.
With an HPI of 56.71, Diponegoro is the 10th most famous Indonesian Politician. His biography has been translated into 26 different languages.
Prince Diponegoro (Javanese: ꦢꦶꦥꦤꦼꦒꦫ; born Bendara Raden Mas Mustahar, ꦧꦼꦤ꧀ꦢꦫꦫꦢꦺꦤ꧀ꦩꦱ꧀ꦩꦸꦱ꧀ꦠꦲꦂ; later Bendara Raden Mas Antawirya ꦧꦼꦤ꧀ꦢꦫꦫꦢꦺꦤ꧀ꦩꦱ꧀ꦲꦤ꧀ꦠꦮꦶꦂꦪ; 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, 69 years old. 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 34 people classified as politicians born between 1290 and 1979. Of these 34, 12 (35.29%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Joko Widodo, Megawati Sukarnoputri, and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The most famous deceased politicians include Sukarno, Suharto, and B. J. Habibie. As of April 2022, 10 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Hamengkubuwono IX, Fatmawati, and Iskandar Muda.
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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 20 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.