I would hold a referendum on reinstating the death penalty

Marine Le Pen would hold referendums on key issues such as reinstating the death penalty if elected French president, as she swore to “let the people speak” on issues that matter to them.

“I want the referendum to become a classic operating tool,” said the nationalist Eurosceptic 53-year-old, who is in an intense fight with incumbent Emmanuel Macron ahead of a second round of voting on April 24.

The National Rally candidate said a vote on capital punishment is on the table, as “there is no forbidden debate in a great, mature democracy”. She added: “Letting the people speak isn’t dangerous, what is dangerous is not letting them.”

It is not the first time Ms Le Pen has raised the prospect of reinstating capital punishment, which France abolished in 1981 – 16 years after Britain.

She mentioned it in 2012 and scrapped it at the last minute from her 2017 manifesto. She has previously said that she would personally vote against reinstating the death penalty. The last poll on the subject found that 55 per cent of French would be in favor of bringing it back.

Critics pointed out that such a move would result in France being instantly excluded from the European Union, as the abolition of the death penalty is an EU entrance requirement.

Ms Le Pen has made it clear she would bring about a “referendum revolution” if she wins the keys to the Elysée Palace.

One of her first moves would be to hold a vote called “citizenship, identity and immigration”. Its goal would be to inscribe into the French constitution the principle of “national priority”, whereby French nationals take precedence for jobs, welfare and housing.

Critics say the very notion of national priority violates the French constitution and the declaration of human rights because it discriminates against foreigners who are legally in the country and should share the same rights as French nationals.

Constitutionalists argue such a referendum would first require majority support from the upper and lower houses of parliament. Analysts said that is an unlikely prospect and doubt Ms Le Pen would secure a parliamentary majority in June legislative elections.

Any attempt to circumscribe such a procedure would spark a major institutional crisis and cause a “constitutional coup d’etat”, according to jurist Jean-Philippe Derosier.

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