“I was the minister of criminals”: ​​when Robert Badinter suffered from unpopularity

If the tributes follow one another after the death of Robert Badinter, the former Minister of Justice has long suffered from unpopularity with public opinion.

“I was the minister of criminals”: ​​when Robert Badinter suffered from unpopularity

If the tributes follow one another after the death of Robert Badinter, the former Minister of Justice has long suffered from unpopularity with public opinion.

He will be remembered as the man who abolished the death penalty. The announcement of the death of Robert Badinter, former Minister of Justice under François Mitterrand, this Friday February 9, 2024 provoked a shower of tributes, regardless of political color. A humanist icon of the left, the former president of the Constitutional Council has not always had the popularity that characterizes him today. At the time perceived as the lawyer of thugs, he is today described as "figure of the century" by the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron.

Robert Badinter did not hesitate to talk about this unpopularity very freely in an interview given to JDD in March 2011. Despite the creation of a civil law firm with Jean-Denis Bredin, ex-member of the Académie française , he was the “assassins’ lawyer” for public opinion. “I was only seen through the cases of perpetrators of atrocious crimes who had escaped the death penalty,” he says. If the latter said he had "considerably improved the condition of the victims", public opinion did not seem to pay attention to it.

Reserved, not really experienced in media games, the former deputy for Hauts-de-Seine was a very talented intellectual, who never really wanted to show his emotions. A restraint that the French hardly appreciated. “I have the capacity to convince, when I am strongly convinced, but I did not master the media technique. I was abstract, professorial, dogmatic, where it would have been necessary to be cool, sympathetic, warm” he explained, always in the JDD, almost 12 years ago. In reality, Robert Badinter remained a scholar, a guide, a wise man, rather than a minister. At least, for public opinion.

Shortly after the abolition of the death penalty, Badinter had lunch with Cardinal Lustiger. "You are at the beginning of your path of pain. When there is a great crime, the death instinct, which lies dormant in human beings, awakens. As it is through you that this will no longer be possible, it It is on you that this death instinct will be polarized” he confided to her, reports the press title. Robert Badinter recognizes that after the abolition of the death penalty, there were neither more nor fewer crimes. “We understood its uselessness and its inhumanity” he declares. Today, it is clear that the abolition of the death penalty, the abolition of the State Security Court, the military tribunals, the anti-thieves law, the decriminalization of homosexuality or even its reforms to humanize the prisons made him an emblematic character of the French Republic.

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