The support to the animal rights party Pacma is increasing in Spain. On Saturday the 10th of September, a massive demonstration against bullfighting and bull chases was organized in Madrid.
Thousands of people filled the streets of Madrid with slogans like “Torture is not culture” and “abolish bullfights.” Combating against bullfighting has a long history in Spain, but it is only in recent years that it has gained more supporters.
Several municipalities have introduced bans and several regions are now discussing a ban, including the Balearic Islands. In Catalonia and the Canary Islands it is already prohibited. The demonstration on 10th of Septebmer has become an annual support statement to the animal rights party “Partido Animalista Contra el Maltrato Animal (Pacma)”. Demonstrators also celebrated a recent victory won against the so-called “Toro de la Vega”, a controversial bull chase that has been kept for centuries in the forests outside Tordesillas. Through public pressure and a hostile foreign press they managed to get the regional government of Castilla and Leon to ban the event.
Pacma is not only combating against bullfights, but against all ill-treatment of animals, pets and farm animals, circus animals etc. Pacma’s next goal is to is to ban “Becerradas” (informal bullfight with calves), to end the “Toros de fuego” (where they put burning things in the bull’s horns) and “Toros ensogados” (strangulation of the bull with a noose around the throat).
In 2008 Pacma participated in the general elections for the first time. In their election campaign they used a video with really nasty scenes, a pig with a torn throat and bulls where blood toppled forward. Their basic message was “no to animal abuse” a slogan that they still are using completely unchanged.
“This is what political scientists call a political party with only one subject” explains Mariam Martínez Bascuñán teacher at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, adding that such parties are turning to a minority that have already “embraced” the subject. Martínez Bascuñán from Pacma says that “by politicizing the subject, we have also managed to attract more voters,” We are now the largest party in Spain without any representation in Parliament.
The last election on 26 June confirmed the party’s growing support. Despite for a four percent decline in voter turnout the party won 60,000 more voters than on 20 December 2015. More specifically, they received a total of 286,702 votes (1.19%). This is a sharp increase compared to the 2008 election when they only received 44,795 votes (0.17%).
Spain’s electoral system, that many consider unfair, withholds political parties such as Pacma. The Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) received 285,000 votes and with these they received 5 representatives in the parliament. But they got their votes in one region, while Pacma got their voices spread across the entire country and were left without representation in the Spanish parliament.
Animal-Rights Political parties have succeeded better in several other European countries. In Portugal they have one representative in the parliament, while in Germany they have managed to send a representative to the European Parliament. In the Netherlands, they have two seats in the Congress, two in the Senate and one in the European Parliament, in addition, they have seats in about 50 local and regional boards.
“We are 20 years behind our neighboring countries, but we have made great strides. Before people watched us most as some oddballs, but they don’t anymore” says PACMA President Silvia Barquero Nogales. This is attributed to awareness campaigns that have been conducted in recent years.
The last survey on “European’s attitude on animal welfare” that Eurobarometer has conducted shows that 94% of Spaniards consider it” very important “or” important “to ensure the welfare of animals in agriculture. In addition 71% want more information on the subject. In 2006 the figures were 71% and 61%, and the report also shows that 86% of Spaniards want greater protection for companion animals.
Pacma has become so important on the political scene that Podemos contacted them earlier this year to try to get them into their left alliance. Pacma refused because Podemos has not taken clear distance from bullfighting. “We know that we have a tool that creates pressure and we are delighted to have this role, so that other parties will include animal rights in their agendas,” concludes Barquero.
More information: Pacma (in Spanish).
Sources: El Pais and Pacma