Bid to ban bullfighting abandoned as French MPs block crucial vote

© Anthony Maurin

A bid to ban bullfighting in France was abandoned on Thursday as MPs opposed to the move presented more than 500 amendments, using up the time for debate and obstructing a vote on draft legislation.

"I'm so sorry," Aymeric Caron, a left-wing MP, vegan and animal rights' campaigner, told the national assembly as he announced the decision to withdraw the draft legislation after raucous and bad-tempered scenes in the French parliament.

Though public opinion is firmly in favour of outlawing the practice of bullfighting, the bill had been expected to be rejected by a majority of lawmakers, wary about stirring up the bullfighting heartlands in the south of the country.

Members of the ruling centrist coalition were advised not to support the text from the opposition France Unbowed party, even though many government members are known to oppose bullfighting.

During a first debate at the parliament's law commission last week, a majority voted against the proposal by Caron.

One thousand bulls die each year

The now-abandoned bill proposed modifying an existing law against animal cruelty to remove exemptions which permit bullfights in certain locatiions.

These are granted in towns such as Bayonne and Mont-de-Marsan in southwest France.

Many so-called "bull towns" claim to depend on the shows for tourism and see the culture of bull-breeding and the spectacle of the fight as part of their way of life.

Supporters of the practice organised demonstrations last Saturday, while animal rights protesters gathered in Paris, highlighting the north-south and rural-versus-Paris divide at the heart of the debate.


Read more on RFI English

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