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What is Marine Le Pen’s position on the death penalty?

Around 50% of people who took part in a recent poll said they support reinstating the penalty

Marine Le Pen has clarified her view on the death penalty after questions came up this week about her opinion of it Pic: Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock

Far-right presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen (Rassemblement National) has spoken about her views on bringing back the death penalty in an interview this morning (April 15).

She stated categorically her opposition to the measure, which was abolished in France in 1981, telling BFMTV that it would be “anti-constitutional”. 

It comes after earlier this week she left the question open to interpretation when, during a press conference relating to democracy and the exercise of power, she said “no debate about democracy is off limits”. 

Ms Le Pen has promised to hold a series of referendums on various topics if she is elected on April 24, including whether a priority system favouring French nationals should be established for jobs, housing and social aids. 

Read more: What is Le Pen’s ‘French nationals first’ policy and is it legal?

This plan has been described by lawyers as going against the constitution, fuelling debates about Ms Le Pen’s programme and leading to questions about whether she planned a referendum on the death penalty. 

Reinstating the death penalty does not feature in her official programme, nor did it when she campaigned in 2017.

However, she did not rule out the idea of a referendum on the death penalty five years ago. 

In 2012, the first time she ran in the presidential elections, she also raised the idea of holding a referendum on the death penalty. 

50% of people polled siad they are in favour of death penalty

Around one in two people who took part in a recent poll in France support bringing back the death penalty.

This figure is far higher among supporters of Ms Le Pen’s party, Rassemblement National, with 85% RN voters supporting its return, a 2020 poll shows. 

Around 54% support it among supporters of the right-wing Les Républicains, while 29% of those voting for the left-wing France Insoumise or the far-left Parti communiste français support it. 

Support for the measure has fluctuated over the years. 

Polls carried out at the beginning of the 1980s, when it was first abolished, showed that around two-thirds of people in France were in favour of maintaining the guillotine, Amnesty International reported. 

This gradually dropped to between 30% to 40% by the beginning of the 2000s. 

However, since 2010, support has increased sharply and today around 50% of people in France want to see the death penalty brought back. 

Anne Denis, head of the Death Penalty, Torture and Health Commission for Amnesty International France, told The Connexion in October last year that it is “legally impossible to reinstate the death penalty”, confirming Ms Le Pen’s stance.

“If we did, we would have no standing in the international community,” she said. 

She also said that people should not take surveys showing support for the measure “too seriously”. 

“Polls depend on how and when the question is asked. Public opinion is fickle. If asked in the aftermath of a particularly heinous crime or in a context of great violence, the answer will be in favour of the death penalty.

“This is human, but it is a matter of revenge, and the role of a state is not to orchestrate revenge but to dispense justice,” she said.

The last person to face the death penalty in France was Hamida Djandoubi, 27, who was guillotined in Marseille in 1977. 

He was convicted of the torture and murder of his 21-year-old ex-girlfriend. 

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