Spanish Government cannot impose return of bullfighting on Catalonia, say dissenting magistrates
Bullfighting was effectively banned in Catalonia in 2012, after a Parliament Act was approved in 2010. On 20th of October last, however, the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) annulled the prohibition. Eight of the eleven magistrates at the TC considered that the Catalan Parliament “exceeded its competences” and “restricted the citizens’ rights and freedoms” when banning bullfighting. This week, the identities of the three dissenting magistrates have been unveiled. The judges Adela Asúa, Fernando Valdés Dal-Ré and Juan Antonio Xiol recalled that the Spanish Constitution does not give the Government the power to “displace” exclusive regional competencies, such as the regulation of public performances and animal protection, and therefore defend that the Spanish executive cannot impose the return of bullfighting on Catalonia.
Barcelona (CNA).- The three judges of the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) who voted against the resolution of the 20th of October, which annulled the prohibition to host bullfighting in Catalonia, consider that Spain has no power to impose the return of bullfighting on Catalonia. The individual comments on the reasons behind the dissenting votes of Adela Asúa, Fernando Valdés Dal-Ré and Juan Antonio Xiol were released on Tuesday and in them they argue that the Spanish state has no competency to displace with a bill exclusive regional powers, such as those relating to public performances and the protection of animals. Therefore, the magistrates defend that the Spanish Parliament declaration of bullfighting as a good of cultural interest “cannot be absolutely imposed in the entire country”.
The three judges were the only ones opposing the judgment passed, by eight votes to three, which annulled the Catalan Parliament Act of 2010 banning bullfighting in Catalonia. In its resolution, the TC stated that bullfighting is an “intangible cultural heritage” and recalled that, therefore, it is for the Spanish state to regulate it “and guarantee its preservation”. According to the court, the Catalan law invaded the Spanish executive competences, as in 2013 and 2015 the Spanish Parliament passed two laws protecting bullfighting.
In contrast, the three dissenting judges argue that the judgment written by the Catalan magistrate Encarnació Roca, does not sufficiently weigh the powers of Catalonia on the protection of animals and remember that the Spanish Constitution does not give the Spanish Government the power to “displace” exclusive regional competencies, such as the regulation of public performances and animal protection. Asúa and Valdés stressed that the mandate to protect bullfighting does not have sufficient grounds to declare unconstitutional "a specific ban protected by the exercise of two regional powers”.
Xiol also argued in his dissent that the competencies in the field of animal protection and public performances are “specific”, while the jurisdiction of the Spanish Government for the protection of the culture in relation to bullfighting “cannot be imposed completely all over the country”.
According to the judge, the duty of the Spanish Government to protect bullfighting should be met considering the implementation that it has in different parts of Spain. Besides, he recalled that in the Canary Islands bullfighting has been prohibited for years “with the indifference of the state” and pointed out that the love for bullfighting in Catalonia has experienced a decline in recent years.
For all the reasons stated above, according to Xiol, the TC should have dismissed the appeal that the Conservative People’s Party (PP) issued against the bullfighting ban in Catalonia. PP presented an appeal against the law approved by the Parliament in July 2010, which foresaw banning bullfighting in Catalonia from the 1st January 2012 onwards. Its main argument at the time was that the Catalan law “invaded the Spanish State’s competences” and “restricts citizens’ rights and freedoms”.