popularism n : music adapted to the understanding and taste of the majority
Popularism (italian: popolarismo) is a political doctrine conceived by Don Luigi Sturzo as a middle way between Socialism and Liberalism and opposed to Fascism because of its stress on Democracy. It was the basis for the Italian People's Party (Italian: Partito Popolare Italiano) and, after World War II, contributed in the founding of European Christian Democracy. The European People's Party (Italian: Partito Popolare Europeo) was named after that in 1976. Although in a new meaning the term is still common in several European countries to refer to conservative or centrist parties.
Christian DemocracyMain article: Christian Democracy
Within Christian Democracy the use of the name People's Party is widespread, and relates to the closest thing to a utopian ideal that the ideology has. It consists of two meanings. The first is the idea that the Christian Democratic parties should try to work towards a policy that is for the good of all the members of society, as opposed to parties that promote the good of a specific group (i.e. class). The second refers to a society where the people live in a kind of harmony, and where people and groups are interested in and care about each other. It isn't believed this goal can ever be attained, so it's more of a direction to work towards than a real utopian ideal.
New Popularism and European PopularismFrom the mid 90s, the European People's Party started to receive conservative parties in his group in the European Parliament (among others the Spanish Partido Popular, the portugues Partido Social Democrata and the Italian Forza Italia), with the aim of exceeding in membership the Party of European Socialists group. In July 1999 the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats group was founded and, upon being joined by gaullist Rally for the Republic, it became the greatest group in the European Parliament. The consequent approachment to more conservative and euro-sceptic policies caused in 2004 the split of the europhile tendency to form the European Democratic Party.
Similarly in Italy, the most relevant heir of popularism, the Italian People's Party, dissolved in 2002 in the Daisy-Democracy is Freedom party which in turn in 2004 was among the founders of the European Democratic Party. Consequently Forza Italia, the party of Silvio Berlusconi, became the sole important party of European popularism in Italy.
Therefore more and more frequently political commentators speak about a new popularism or european popularism as Christian Democracy augmented by several doctrines such as Italian berlusconism, Spanish aznarism, French gaullism and partially by British and American conservatism, neoliberalism and neoconservatism.
Silvio Berlusconi, José María Aznar López, José Manuel Durão Barroso, Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel can be seen as representative of this phenomenon.