MADRID — Spain took a key first step Tuesday toward enshrining bullfighting as a key part of the nation’s cultural heritage, a move that could roll back a ban on the blood-soaked pageants in the northeastern region of Catalonia.
Lawmakers in Parliament accepted a petition from bullfight supporters asking for the special status in a 180-40 vote that included 107 abstentions.
A parliamentary cultural commission will now begin work on proposed legislation over the coming months with expectations that it will go to a vote this year. In theory, a new law giving bullfights the protection would take precedence over regional government laws and could be used to overturn the Catalonia ban that went into effect last year.
The petition, promoted by the Federation of Bullfighting Entities of Catalonia, received 590,000 signatures of support — included those of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and author Mario Vargas Llosa, a Nobel laureate.
Bullfighting is no longer as popular in Spain as it was mainly because of the country’s crushing economic crisis and changing tastes.