According to the Center for Public Opinion Research (CVVM), a significant milestone has been reached in the Czech Republic, where opponents of the death penalty now outnumber its supporters for the first time. The latest survey conducted in spring revealed that 42% of the population currently agrees with the death penalty, while 51% are against it. This marks a notable shift from the past, as the number of death penalty opponents has grown nearly fourfold since 1992, when the CVVM began inquiring about attitudes towards capital punishment. The Czech Press Agency has access to the survey’s results.
Czechoslovakia abolished the death penalty in 1990 after the fall of communist totalitarianism. Over the following three decades, the highest level of support for the death penalty was observed in 1992 and 1994, with about three-quarters of respondents favoring its reinstatement. However, in subsequent years, the number of supporters fluctuated, and since 2011, it has steadily declined. Comparing the recent survey with the one conducted in 2019, there has been an eight percentage point decrease in supporters, while the number of opponents has risen by ten points.
The authors of the survey note that since 1992, when support for the death penalty stood at 76%, the proportion of supporters has decreased by 34 percentage points, while the proportion of opponents has grown from 13% to approximately four times that, representing a substantial difference of 38 percentage points.
Among those who support the death penalty, the majority (three-fifths) believe that it “brings just satisfaction to the survivors.” On the other hand, the statement advocating the principle of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” received the least support, with only 41% backing it.
Regarding reasons against capital punishment, the strongest concern expressed by the public is the risk of potential abuse and miscarriage of justice, with four-fifths of citizens agreeing with this sentiment. The least convincing argument against the existence of the death penalty is that it represents a manifestation of political populism, which garnered agreement from 37% of respondents.
The CVVM survey was based on the participation of more than 800 people aged 15 and above, and it was conducted between 27 March and 22 May.