Nora Johnson – San Isidro showdown!

Forget the fancy footwork, the talk at the recent San Isidro festival in Madrid was political, not bovine! The scrapping of a €30,000 national bullfighting prize has ruffled feathers.

The Culture Minister Ernest Urtasun believes bullfighting is on its, err, last legs, hence the left-wing government’s decision to scrap the prize. This has naturally caused a right royal rumpus among aficionados, particularly younger fans. At Las Ventas Bullring, cheers for the matadors were laced with defiance.

Urtasun defends his stance with figures – apparently, only 1.9% of Spaniards attended bullfights in 2021-22. Animal rights concerns are clearly on the rise.

But wait! Enter Isabel Ayuso, the popular conservative Madrid government region’s head. She’s appointed a retired matador, Miguel Abellán, as bullfighting champion, even creating a new prize to replace the axed national one. Other regions are following suit.

Abellán argues bullfighting, an inspiration for artists like Goya and Picasso, is an economic ‘bull by the horns’, creating 15,000 jobs in Madrid alone. Ironically, some newspapers claim these political spats have rekindled interest in bullfighting amongst the young.

So, much like the sunny and shady sides of the bullring, Spain remains divided on this age-old tradition. With 45% for a ban, 24% in favour and 30.3% undecided, this cultural and political clash is far from over. What’s your view? Anyway, buckle up for a wild ride!


Nora Johnson’s 12 critically acclaimed psychological suspense crime thrillers, including the latest ‘The Couple across the Street’ (, all available online at Amazon etc. Profits to Cudeca cancer charity.   

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Written by

Nora Johnson

Novelist Nora Johnson offers insights on everything from current affairs to life in Spain, with humour and a keen eye for detail.