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Meaning: designed to appeal to many people (of policies, politicians, governments, etc.)

For example:

  • Free national health care is just another populist policy that never works.

  • It isn't "populist", and it works really well in lots of countries where health care isn't just about making money.

Note: For advanced learners: Often used by conservative right-wing people to describe progressive policies that are popular because they support ordinary people rather than powerful corporations and interest groups. Also used by progressive left-wing people to describe nationalistic far-right policies that appeal to common prejudices and fears about immigration, refugees, foreigners, racial and gender equality, etc.

Quick Quiz:

If someone calls a government or a policy "populist", they

a. don't support it

b. might support it

c. definitely support it

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Contributor: Matt Errey