Is bullfighting a right-wing or a left-wing activity? In the arena itself, there’s no way of knowing. But in the political arena, we will know more about it on November 24, when La France Insoumise (LFI) MP Aymeric Caron will introduce a bill to ban bullfighting in France. Debates between those who consider the sport to be a form of culture and others a form of barbarism are sure to be contentious, as well as uncertain.
LFI and the Greens are firmly opposed to bullfighting, while there is a strong bullfighting tradition among the communists. In other parties, personal convictions determine the order of the day. MPs from the main bullfighting cities (Bayonne, Dax, Mont-de-Marsan, Vic-Fezensac, Nîmes, Arles and Béziers) support bullfighting regardless of their political label, supported by the majority of their constituents. The general French population, on the other hand, is massively opposed to it, which explains why there are regular demands for a ban. All summer long, in anticipation of the debate in the Assemblée Nationale, the two camps have clashed with each other using insults, demonstrations, lobbying, tribunes, funding finances and social media.
After the Yellow Vests crisis, the sacrifices linked to Covid-19, the war in Ukraine, the overheated climate and a worrying rate of inflation, will members of parliament be inclined to open a new battlefield in the Midi, where anti-Paris sentiments are already strong (some people there talk about the “Taliban of Paristan”), especially considering less than a thousand bulls are killed in arenas each year?
Despite this, the climate surrounding the issue has changed with the unstoppable rise of animal rights’ awareness and the 2021 vote of the law against animal abuse. It is no coincidence that the anti-bullfighting text is presented by an MP opposed to the exploitation and consumption of any animal. His profile is not the best one to gather widespread support in the Assemblée Nationale, but his goal is probably first and foremost for a debate to be opened for the first time in Parliament on the issue of bullfighting.
If it does happen, two million fans in France will count for little against an animal cause perceived to be young and progressive (while the opposite was true for a long time). For a man to gamble with his life and for an animal to lose it has become, rightly or wrongly, anachronistic. So much so that for some, there is no point in legally banning bullfighting since it will eventually disappear on its own.
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