Gradual Decline in Support for the Death Penalty in Europe

Opposition to the death penalty appears to grow the longer a country has been without the punishment. A Gallup International poll in 2000 found that 60% of western Europeans opposed the death penalty, while 60% of eastern Europeans (where abolition is still being debated) support the death penalty. In France, a TNS Sofres poll revealed that two decades after abolition of the death penalty, 49% of respondents opposed reintroduction of the policy compared with 44% who wanted to reinstate capital punishment. It took until 1999 to reach the point where more French people opposed the death penalty than were in favor. Similarly, in Germany, support for capital punishment was historically divided among East and West Germans. In West Germany, an Allensbach poll registered public support for reinstatement of the death penalty at 55% when the nation banned the practice in 1949. In 2000, the percentage of West German respondents in favor of capital punishment had plummeted to 23%. For East Germans, polling found that 37% of respondents were in favor of capital punishment in 2000. (Financial Times, August 22, 2003) See Public Opinion and International Death Penalty.