Mariano Rajoy, determined that the Balearic bullfighting legislation will be declared unconstitutional. | Efe


The mayor of Fornalutx, Toni Aguiló, is content with the Balearic government's legislation as it applies to the village's correbou bull-run. Although the event, held in early September as part of the Fornalutx fiestas, must change in significant ways, any legal issue about it continuing appears to have been removed.

A legal question that had been raised was to do with the length of the tradition. Under the 1992 animal-protection law, a fiesta event involving an animal had to have been staged continuously for one hundred years. Proving this has not been easy.

A bull-run will still happen but without the horns being tied by ropes. The animal this year will not be a fighting bull but an ordinary Majorcan bull that will be hired for the occasion. The fact that it will be hired demonstrates the fact that the legislation now prohibits the bull being slaughtered after the bull-run.

Aguiló suggests that most animal-rights groups are happy enough with the changes. The town hall accepts that it will have to see how things go this year and in particular make an assessment of any stress caused to the new type of bull. But above all, Aguiló says, "the important thing is that the law protects us and that there can be this event".

Meanwhile, the legislation has already run into trouble in Madrid. Opposition parties in the Balearic parliament had argued that it would do because of potential conflict with the protection given to bullfights under national law. The constitutionality of the legislation, even though it doesn't specifically ban bullfighting, is in question.

The secretary of state for culture, Fernando Benzo, has already advised the regional culture minister, Fanny Tur, that the Rajoy government will be appealing against the Balearic legislation at the Constitutional Court. Benzo's intervention followed a meeting with the bullfighting foundation, which argues that the legislation is a "legal trick that seeks to prohibit bullfighting by removing its essence and thereby makes it unrecognisable".

Once the national government lodges its appeal - and the legislation has yet to come into force as it has not been published on the Official Bulletin - there will be a period of at least five months during which the legislation will be suspended. It will then be up to the Constitutional Court whether this suspension is extended, pending a ruling.