Saturday, March 06, 2010

Aguirre, The Matador's Friend

As the Catalan parliament was busy debating bullfighting this week, Esperanza Aguirre couldn't resist making a special contribution to the debate. She announced on Thursday that the bloodsport is to receive special protection in Madrid as a Bien de Interés Cultural, a status normally only awarded to physical buildings or landscapes. Of course this was Aguirre making her bid for the headlines as the right wing media in Spain raged about the evil Catalan threat to the "fiesta nacional". Espe spent most of the day being photographed in a series of bullfighting poses and she got her reward; pictures on the front pages of the three major right wing Spanish papers. For a person who finds the restricting role of governing Madrid so terribly dreary it's very hard for her to avoid the temptation to upstage the rest of her party in this way and the move came just a day after she told her regional party to get into electioneering mood. Not to worry, there's only another 15 months of this kind of campaigning ahead of us, who says sport and politics don't mix?

Meanwhile the appearances of pro and anti bullfighting witnesses in the Catalan parliament have been quite interesting and in many ways a model of how to deal with such issues. The bullfighting lobby has been working hard but in the end their arguments come down to liberty (obviously not for the bull), tradition (anyone for a stoning?) and unconvincing attempts to minimise the suffering of the animals. What makes the debate special is that there is very little outside intervention involved, a sign of how attitudes towards bullfighting have changed here over the years. The sport is gradually declining, despite very significant public subsidy, and those against it are not just to be found in Cataluña. Its future in that region now seems to depend on the nationalists of Convergencia i Unió, as the rest of the parties have lined up their votes on either side. CiU has so far allowed its members a free vote on the issue.


Colin Davies said...

Now, Graeme. No one on either side calls it a sport, I believe. The aficionados read about it in the Arts & Culture section of the papers. The rest of us don't.

Jan said...

Whatever anyone calls it, I don't think much of it.

Lavengro in Spain said...

The Catalan Parliament has indeed been discussing bullfighting. It has also been discussing dubbing films in Catalan and local government reform. Some of us hope that it our political class might find a little time soon to turn their attention to the economic crisis and the xenophobia that is resulting from it. But first things first.

Graeme said...

I take your point Colin, but "bloodculturalevent" doesn't really offer the same precise description as bloodsport.

@Lavengro in Spain

To be honest I don't believe it would make much difference to the crisis if the Catalan parliament, or any other, spent all of their sessions debating it. I don't think that economic problems prevent us from addressing other ones and in the end the reason they are debating it is the result of a popular initiative.