The vote sparked applause from anti-bullfighting activists. / EFE
Bullfighting will be banned in Cataluña from 2012. The decision was announced on Wednesday morning as some 300 reporters from Spain and abroad followed the voting session in the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona.
Some 66 members voted in favour of the prohibition while 55 voted against and nine abstained.
The results was greeted by cheers and applause from the group of animal rights activists who were in the chamber to witness the controversial vote. Opposite them, bullfighting enthusiasts, who claim they have been the victims of a political conflict, hung their heads in despair.
Cataluña is the second Spanish region to ban bullfighting after the Canaries made the move in 1991.
“Today the world is a better place” said members of the animal rights organisation Prou! as they celebrated the Catalan Parliament’s decision to ban bullfighting from 2012. Their cheers and applause contrasted sharply with the image of Catalan bullfighter Serafín Marín who hung his head in his hands to hide his tears as he was consoled by Luis Corrales of the Catalan bullfighting association.
There were no real surprises in the voting. As expected most of the representatives of the Catalan nationalist party CiU voted in favour of the ban along with the pro-independence group ERC. Members of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) and most of the Catalan Socialists (PSC) voted against the ban. Both the PSC and the CiU had given their members freedom to vote as their own consciences dictated.
The vote was the culmination of a long debate that was initiated in 2008 after anti-bullfighting groups collected some 180,000 signatures in favour of a ban.
While bullfighting enthusiasts claim they have been caught up in the middle of a political debate, politicians have been quick to separate the bullfighting vote from the on-going conflict regarding Cataluña’s regional statutes. “People who want to widen the gap between Cataluña and Spain will use the bullfighting argument, but that is not our case”, said CiU leader Artur Mas. Meanwhile the the President of Cataluña,_Socialist José Montilla, said that he regretted that this debate would be used to gauge relations between Cataluña and Spain.
“There is great interest to see how in Cataluña the battle for independence is mixed with the prohibition of bullfighting”, commented Tim Friend, who was covering the vote for Al Jazeera.
Meanwhile the President of the Junta de Andalucía, José Antonio Griñan, said that he was “totally against” the ban and said that a referendum would be called before a similar decision was made in Andalucía.