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Spain's animal rights party wins record votes in election

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Spain's animal rights party wins record votes in election
Pacma members protesting against bullfighting. Photo: AFP
08:25 CEST+02:00
An animal rights party in Spain won a record number of votes in weekend elections in a country where opposition to bullfighting is more and more vocal.

Nearly 285,000 people cast their ballot for PACMA - or 1.2 percent of all votes - though this is not enough for the party founded 13 years ago to enter parliament.

The grouping has long campaigned for an end to bullfighting in a country increasingly torn between animal rights activists who support abolition, and others who want to keep an age-old tradition going.

It also denounces other "cruel" Spanish traditions, such as throwing a live goat off a church steeple to a crowd below that catches it in a sheet, which happens every year in the northwestern village of Manganeses de la Polvorosa.

The goat sometimes dies in this controversial tradition whose origins are unclear.

Other traditions PACMA criticises are placing flammable balls on the horns of bulls, setting them on fire and letting the animals loose in the street - which happens in many towns around Spain.

Party spokeswoman Laura Duarte told AFP it was a "very good result" that underscored the rising interest in Spain of defending animal rights.

PACMA was instrumental in getting authorities in the Spanish northern region of Castilla y Leon to ban the killing of bulls during traditional festivals, particularly the famed, controversial Toro de la Vega bull run.

This takes place every year in the town of Tordesillas and sees crowds on foot and horseback chase the animal, taking stabs at it with lances until they kill it.

Bullfighting has been the focus of ever-increasing criticism in Spain, with several regions or cities banning corridas or annual festivals with bull running.

Support for PACMA meanwhile has increased over the years. In 2011 elections, it got 102,000 votes, and in December polls, its score more than doubled to 220,000.

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