Bullfighting is banned in Catalonia
The Catalan Parliament has finally approved the bullfighting ban in Catalonia. This morning, an absolute majority of 68 votes has modified the previous Animal Protection Law and banned bullfighting from 2012 on.
Barcelona (CNA).- Today Catalonia has decided to eradicate bullfighting in its entire territory. The Catalan Parliament has approved with an absolute majority of 68 votes an amendment to the Animal Protection Law which has revoked the bullfighting exemption that enabled the practice in Catalonia despite its animal rights\u2019 violations. The exemption has now been annulled and bullfighting will be banned from the 1st of January 2012. The debate has come with great expectation in Catalonia, the rest of Spain and abroad. In addition, a controversy regarding Catalan and Spanish national identities has been raised. Catalanist parties were either for the ban or giving freedom of vote to their MPs, while Spanish nationalist parties within Catalonia and the rest of Spain reacted against this prohibition.
Before the voting, the approval of the amendment was not ensured. The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and the Catalan Eco-Socialist Party (ICV-EUiA) announced their intentions before the voting, ensuring 33 votes for the prohibition. However, absolute majority of the 135-seat Catalan Parliament is 68 votes. In addition, the Spanish nationalist and conservative People\u2019s Party (PPC) and the anti-Catalan nationalism party Ciudadanos (Cs) clearly revealed their opposition to the ban, summing up to 17 votes. However, the two main parties in Catalonia, the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Party (CiU) and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) gave freedom of voting to their MPs, which sums up a total of 85 seats. This morning, 32 MPs of the CiU \u2013which has a total of 48 seats- and 3 MPs of the PSC \u2013which sums up to 37 seats \u2013 voted for the amendment banning bullfighting. Before the voting, the approval of the amendment was not ensured. The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and the Catalan Eco-Socialist Party (ICV-EUiA) announced their intentions before the voting, ensuring 33 votes for the prohibition. However, absolute majority of the 135-seat Catalan Parliament is 68 votes. In addition, the Spanish nationalist and conservative People\u2019s Party (PPC) and the anti-Catalan nationalism party Ciudadanos (Cs) clearly revealed their opposition to the ban, summing up to 17 votes. However, the two main parties in Catalonia, the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Party (CiU) and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) gave freedom of voting to their MPs, which sums up a total of 85 seats. This morning, 32 MPs of the CiU \u2013which has a total of 48 seats- and 3 MPs of the PSC \u2013which sums up to 37 seats \u2013 voted for the amendment banning bullfighting.
The final result of the voting has been 68 votes for the ban, 55 against it, 9 abstentions and 1 absence. Today is has been decided to ban bullfighting, but the prohibition will not come into force until the 1st of January 2012, as politicians have agreed on a year and a half period to allow the industry to adopt the needed means.
The modification comes from a citizens\u2019 petition
The parliamentary discussion started thanks to a Popular Legislative Initiative from the civic platform 'Prou!' (meaning \u201CEnough!\u201D in Catalan). The platform presented a Popular Legislative Initiative to the Catalan Parliament backed by 180,000 signatures from citizens to ban bullfighting in Catalonia. The platform proposed amending the Animal Protection Law which excluded bullfighting within its protection.
On the 18th of December, the Catalan Parliament agreed to analyse the possible modification of the Animal Protection Law, despite the rejection made by the People\u2019s Party (PPC) and the Anti-Catalan Nationalism Party (Ciudadanos). The new law has been discussed for the last few months in a Parliamentary committee, where there have been hearings from different stakeholders, such as bullfighting businessmen, bullfighters, fans and animal rights associations.
The political controversy
A large controversy has been raised throughout Spain, especially in the places with a clear bullfighting tradition, such as Madrid and Andalucía. At a Spanish level, the conservative and Spanish-nationalist People\u2019s Party (PP) is clearly against the ban. The ruling Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) is also against the ban, as its Organisation Secretary reminded yesterday. The Catalan PSC is federated to the PSOE, but it gave freedom of vote to its MPs, creating some political problems within the PSOE in the rest of Spain, especially in the bullfighting-supporting parts of the country. The Catalan branch of the PP has voted against the prohibition, accusing Catalan nationalist parties of banning bullfighting because of national identity reasons, as the practice is associated with Spanish nationalism.
The PP has already stated that it will bring the ban to the Spanish Parliament and the Senate, as well the Spanish Constitutional Court. According to the PP, this decision would oblige Catalan fans to go to València or Southern France to watch a bullfight and all Spanish citizens \u201Chave the right to enjoy bullfighting\u201D.
Catalonia and bullfighting
Nowadays, Catalonia does not have a widespread tradition of bullfighting as in the cases of southern and central Spain. Many decades ago, there were bullfighting arenas in Catalonia, many built during Franco\u2019s times. However, nowadays only one exists in Barcelona, called \u201CLa Monumental\u201D. The rest have closed or been torn down. \u201CLa Monumental\u201D has a mixed crowd consisting of local fans and foreign tourists.
Bullfighting has been, for centuries, presented by Spanish nationalism as \u201Cthe national party\u201D, the maximum celebration of Spanish pride. Bullfighting was and still is extremely popular in Andalucía and Castilla, with large crowds in Madrid and Seville. However, in Catalonia, bullfighting has been in the last decades a marginal activity, which was popular at the beginning of the 20th century but slowly vanished, especially within the last 30 years. Furthermore, the Franco dictatorship made use of bullfighting as a way to spread a homogeneous image of Spain and Spanish nationalism, both abroad and within the State; an image that still persists in the entire world. Many Catalans thus perceive bullfighting as an imposed tradition, intimately associated with Spanish nationalism.
Bullfighting is also an industry, with many jobs involved, especially in the centre, south and west of Spain, where bulls are raised and where most of the bullfighting arenas are located. Arenas are also located along the Mediterranean shore as they are a huge tourist attraction. However, in Catalonia no bulls are raised and only one arena remains active, located in Barcelona. In addition, many claim that bullfighting is an art, pictured by artists such as Goya and Picasso. The last argument by bullfighting supporters is the tradition, which is deeply rooted in some parts of Spain.
Catalonia has a tradition of spectacles using animals, many coming from Medieval times. Most of them were banned many years or even decades ago, such as throwing a live goat out of a bell tower once a year. The only ones that remain are bullfighting and 'correbous', which consists of making a bull run in the middle of a crowd, sometimes with something attached to its horns. In 'correbous', which are popular in Southern Catalonia, the animal is not harmed physically, but it is exposed to a highly-stressful environment.
Actually, 'correbous' are part of the controversy as MPs from the CiU, PSC and ERC also wanted to exclude this practice from the ban. The PP has forced a separate vote on bullfighting and 'correbous' as it has brought the issue to the Catalan institution which certifies if the Catalan Parliament can legislate on the issue. This is a way to delay the debate and to separate both votes, with the hope that by trying to preserve 'correbous', bullfighting will not be finally abolished in Catalonia as it will have to be discussed again in the next legislative term and the ban does not come into force until the 1st January 2012. However, the success of these unveiled tactics is very unlikely.
Bullfighting is already banned in the Canary Islands
In 1991, the Canary Islands banned bullfighting because, similar to the case of Catalonia, it was not popular there. The prohibition passed without controversy and it was even approved by all the Canary Islands Parliament groups, including the PP. Now the same ban in Catalonia is under the threat of being appealed to the Spanish Constitutional Court and ruled by the Spanish Parliament.