Most comparative theorists of democracy have described Asia's political parties as highly personalized, weakly rooted and ideologically hollow. Indonesia has not been exempted from this assessment, with many authors identifying parties as the weakest link in the country's young democracy. But a more systematic analysis of Indonesian parties offers a different perspective. This article uses analytical tools developed by Paul Webb and Stephen White to assess the popular legitimacy, organizational rootedness and systemic functionality of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle. The discussion shows that, despite well known deficiencies, the party has a clearly defined constituency, possesses moderately strong roots in society and plays an important role in interest aggregation and articulation. Accordingly, this case study sheds a new light on deeply entrenched stereotypes of party politics in Asia and other transitional democracies.