Lulism (Portuguese: lulismo) is a political ideology describing the 2006 consolidation of segments of Brazilian society previously hostile to social movements and the Workers' Party behind political forces led by former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The controlled reformism and limited structural change focused on the poorest sections of society. The lower classes, who had distanced themselves from Lula, accepted his candidacy after his first term as president as the middle‑class turned from him. One explanation would be a new ideological configuration incorporating left- and right-wing elements. The rhetoric and praxis, which united the maintenance of stability and state distributism are the origins of Lulism. Although distinct, it shares characteristics of Chavism and Kirchnerism.
To build political consensus and secure social peace, Lulism has forged a coalition of interests across Brazilian society instead of pursuing an ideological agenda; gradual reformism was favored over direct confrontation with the elite. Brazilian manufacturers, banks and retailers benefited from the consumption-led, credit-fueled government economic model. According to Andre Singer, "The convergence of interests of the private industry sector on one side, and of the organized labor force on the other, led to the stability that allowed this political system to take the form of a sort of consensus". This equilibrium allowed the government to gradually make significant changes in policy. Non-confrontation is, in the Lulism movement, a sine qua non for development.
The word "Lulism" was coined by André Singer, Lula's press secretary from 2003 to 2005 and spokesperson during his presidency (from 2002 to 2007). Originating in the 2002 presidential campaign, Lulism departed from the left-wing politics of the Workers Party until late 2001 and abandoned the concepts of organization and mobilization. Since Lulism is a model of enforced change within order, mobilization is unnecessary and conflict is eliminated.
A 2009 article written for the Instituto Millenium said that "liberals are cornered" after "more than six years of Lulism". Carlos de Andrade adopted that view: "According to her, the term 'liberal' is mistranslated in Brazil as 'rightist' or 'supportive of military dictatorships'. In the war for public opinion, the so-called left always got the better, Singer says".
Lulism sought reconciliation between Lula's charisma and the large Brazilian conservative sector. Ironically, it is a conservative social pact combining the economic policy of Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002) with the distributive policies of Lula's government (2002-2010).
Under the auspices of conciliation, Lulism represents an "appeasement of social conflicts, of which the bourgeoisie has always [been] too afraid, especially in a country of great inequality as is the case of Brazil" because it envisions a "reduction-agenda poverty and inequality, but under the aegis of a weak reformism". This social-change model is explained as a "conservative variant of modernization" in which the state has a "prominent role in leveraging the poorest", ensuring that Brazilian social structural problems will not be touched (in other words, without conflicting with the financial interests of the conservative elite. Lulism "concocted new ideological, under-union banners that seemed to combine" continuity of the Lula and Cardoso governments in macroeconomic policy based on three pillars: inflation control, a floating exchange rate and a budgetary surplus.
Another feature distinguishing Lulism as a political movement is its nonpartisan character. It overlaps the political parties, including the Workers Party founded by Lula. Although the movement was anchored in Lula's charisma, Lulism differs from other movements surrounding political leaders (such as Peronism in Argentina) in its lack of a cult of personality around the former Brazilian president.
Several Latin American politicians, such as Ollanta Humala, José Mujica, Mauricio Funes, Fernando Lugo and Henrique Capriles have cited Lulism and Chavism as political models and alternatives to the Washington Consensus.