The shout of populist is used today as a way of discrediting any politician. However, according to the RAE, it is a “political tendency that seeks to attract the popular classes.” Neither has a pejorative component nor does it seem to indicate a concrete ideology.
The appeal to the demands of the people against the established power or the dominant elites is the most specific of this thought. However, referring to the term is done in a pejorative sense as if raising the voice in defense of the lower classes was something negative that carries with it a vested interest interest. Its use in the media and traditional political parties, those who defend the “establishment” have become a derogatory term.
Thus, they are labeled as populist figures, from right to left. From Le Pen and Trump to Evo Morales or Pablo Iglesias. These are emotional leaders whose speeches express anger or fear towards those who consider a danger to the country by recourse to arguments such as this one by Morales:
“The purifications have evidently harmed us. We won by playing a game with everything against. We even beat the referee. Instead of debugging from the Court to the people, the people had to cleanse the Court. If I were a member of that Court, I would be the first to resign. “
For the right, the left will be populist for manipulating the working classes; To the left will be the right to provoke the fear in the working middle classes with the intention of provoking a behavior. In this way, any politician who in his speeches alludes to the unprivileged classes, regardless of their ideology, is dismissed as populist.
The new populism becomes fashionable.
The term populism loses his theoretical meaning and becomes a form of political action, a communication strategy that has acquired a great relevance in the political and media debate. It is sometimes referred to as Nazism by relating it to populism. Somehow he has taken over as a term of maximum disqualification.
All this makes it no longer useful to use it to carry out contemporary analyzes of structures, stages or processes of Latin America, which is being the focus of so-called populism. He has been deprived of effective content.
The characteristics that defined populism; Charismatic leader, appeal to the masses and the people or direct political mobilization of the citizens, dissolve before the identification of populism with demagoguery, with false promises. To accuse of populist nowadays to any Latin American government with social and popular discourse is a form to fight it.
Eduardo Alvarado, degree in Political Science and expert in political analysis points out;
“Populism ends up being an empty concept, something more identifiable with the commonplace, the colloquial topic or a disqualifying adjective that an explanatory theory of certain political behaviors under certain circumstances”
It may be time to react to the new reality of “populism” and or redefine it or use it consistently instead of automating it as if it were an insult.