Page last updated at 14:09 GMT, Sunday, 29 March 2009 15:09 UK

Spanish town cancels bullfighting

Bull in bullfight
The mayor said the festival diverted resources from other services

The residents of a small town in central Spain have voted in a referendum to cancel their annual bullfighting festival because of the economic crisis, the BBC's Steve Kingstone reports.

The move was proposed by the mayor of Manzanares el Real - on the grounds that the event would divert resources from other municipal services. But the result has caused an outcry among supporters of bullfighting.

Fifty-two percent of those who voted agreed the bullfighting festival should be scrapped. Thirty-five percent voted to keep the event.

And only 13% chose a compromise option - to maintain the festival, but scale down its cost.

On paper, that result means that Manzanares el Real will lose its bullfight - traditionally, part of the social and cultural fabric of small-town Spain.

The mayor had argued that the cost of the event, at more than 125,000 euros ($165,000; £116,000), was too high for a community struggling through a recession.

But supporters of local bullfighting are furious, and some protested in the town when the result became known.

They point that turnout was just 22% - too low, they say, to justify doing away with a cherished tradition.

The outcome puts the mayor of Manzanares in a difficult position.

After assessing the result and the passions on all sides, he will take what may be a career-shaping final decision during the coming week.

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