The bullfight in Palma in August this year. | Miquel À. Cañellas

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The Council of State, which is the supreme consultative body of the Spanish government, has approved a Spanish government legal challenge to the Balearic law on bulls on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. The Spanish cabinet is therefore expected to authorise Prime Minister Rajoy's appeal against the law at its meeting later this week.

Lodging an appeal means that the Balearic law will automatically be suspended for at least five months while the Constitutional Court makes its deliberations. At the end of this five-month period, the court either has to ratify the suspension of the legislation or lift it.

The Balearic law doesn't ban bullfighting but its provisions place obstacles against the staging of bullfights and also specifies that bulls cannot be killed or mistreated. The legislation is, among other things, tough on the admission of minors to bullfights and on possible "doping" of bulls. Originally, the Balearic government had intended to prohibit bullfighting but revised the legislation once the Constitutional Court ruled that Catalonia's ban was unconstitutional.

The Balearic government, ahead of the legislation being approved by parliament, was advised by Madrid that it contained articles that were in possible contravention of the Constitution. The legislation was passed nevertheless.