Soekarno (b. Kusno Sosrodihardjo, June 6, 1901, Surabaya, East Java-d. June 21, 1970, Jakarta, Indonesia) was the first President of Indonesia. He was the leader of his country's struggle for Independence from the Netherlands and a prominent leader of Indonesia's nationalist movement during the Dutch colonial period. Soekarno 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, Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta declared Indonesian independence on August 17, 1945, and Soekarno was appointed as first president.
Soekarno met Tjokroaminoto, a nationalist and founder of Sarekat Islam in 1916 while at school and Tjokroaminoto introduced Soekarno to nationalist ideas. In July 1927 Soekarno with his friends established a pro-independence party, Partai Nasional Indonesia (PNI), of which Soekarno was elected the first leader. In December 1930, Soekarno was sentenced to four years in prison. During World War II, Soekarno supported the Japanese and was made head of Tiga-A mass organization movement.
Joined by Mohammad Hatta, Soekarno declared independence of the Republic of Indonesia in 1945. Soekarno agreed to become a figurehead president, which he later resented, while a prime minister controlled day-to-day affairs of the government. Later, he claimed that Western-style parliamentary democracy was unsuitable for Indonesia, he called for a system of "guided democracy." Soekarno argued that at the village level, important questions were decided by lengthy deliberation designed to achieve a consensus, under the guidance of village elders. Soekarno argued it should be the model for the entire nation, with the president taking the role assumed by village elders. By December 1957, Soekarno began to take serious steps to enforce his authority over the country. As Soekarno's domestic authority was secured, he began to pay more attention to the world stage.
Soekarno was made president for life by the MPRS in 1963, but in 1963 a military coup lead by Major General Suharto, eventually ousted Soekarno from power in 1967.