Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been called a populist on many occasions. The use of this term comes from a number of reasons.
Firstly, Lula is a charismatic leader. It is not uncommon to see charismatic leaders dubbed as “populists,” even though populism is not connected to charisma. Secondly, Lula is a leader of the left. Similarly, leftists are often called populists, usually due to their economic policies, despite the fact that, once again, populism is not connected to leftism.
Thirdly, because of the social policies Lula adopted, particularly those of wealth transfer or redistribution. However, redistribution programs have a lot more to do with social democracy or the welfare state than they do with populism. Finally, because of his repeated discourse of pitting the elites against the people. Therein lies, perhaps, one of the defining elements of populism, though the way in which the people are set against the elites is crucial to characterizing whether it is, in fact, populism.
Why it is not correct to call Lula a populist