It was thought that the last had been seen of this in Palma. | Archive

Balearic animal-welfare legislation, commonly referred to as the bulls' law, has been annulled by the Constitutional Court. The court has accepted the appeal against the legislation by the Madrid government, which first went before the court when the Partido Popular were still in power. The legislation, in the court's view, invades state competences in respect of protecting bullfighting as a national cultural institution.

The Balearic legislation contains provisions which are intended to make the holding of bullfights untenable. It also forbids the killing of bulls. The Constitutional Court has taken the view that this goes against one of the aspects of the bullfight which are necessary for its "recognisability" as a cultural institution. The same or similar arguments have been used in rejecting other provisions of the legislation, such as limiting to ten minutes the time that each bull can fight. All of these mean that it would be "impossible to recognise the core characteristics of the bullfight, which has been protected by the state".

The court has accepted a regional government's authority to regulate in respect of its competences for agriculture and livestock. However, regions are obliged to safeguard bullfighting. In this respect, the court refers to its decision regarding the Catalonia ban on bullfighting. As with the Balearic legislation, this sought to introduce limitations that would make it impossible for the bullfight to continue in its traditional fashion.

There was a divergence of opinion among the judges who arrived at the ruling. One described the Balearic law as a "trick", while another felt that bullfighting should evolve and that there should be greater animal protection.