Up to 400 people attended the founding conference of the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) last weekend.
They met in the face of threats of disruption by right wing thugs from Faki – the anti-communist front.
Papernas was founded in an attempt to bring together progressive forces and grassroots campaigners to contest the 2009 elections.
Mass movements in the late 1990s brought down the dictatorship of Suharto. Today, despite daily protests, rallies and strikes, the movement is extremely fragmented.
The Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) were central to the launch of the new party, as is labour activist Dita Sari.
Papernas has pulled in many old democracy activists and former supporters of the PRD as well as new activists.
The congress discussed the party's principles and elected a national leadership. Details of a full party programme are yet to be discussed.
Dominggus Octavianus, the former chair of Papernas' preparatory committee, says that the party's key demands are, 'nationalisation of the oil and gas industries and the cancellation of the foreign debt', and to use that money to 'provide free education and healthcare to the people'.
Papernas has branches in around 100 cities, towns and villages. Under draconian election regulations designed to block a left challenge, it will need 250 branches in two thirds of the regions of Indonesia to contest the elections.