Bullfighting is latest battleground in Spanish politics

The traditional Spanish sport of bullfighting has been subject to increasing debate among politicians.

(CNN)For its advocates, bullfighting is an indelible part of Spanish culture, a ritual that forms part of the nation's cultural patrimony, immortalized in countless works of art.

Both professional bullfights and bull running events remain popular in Spain, especially in the summertime.
However the sport has become increasingly politicized in recent years, and recent developments in the southern region of Andalucia have underlined bullfighting's new-found importance as a political symbol.
    In December, Vox, a far-right party known for its hard line stance on illegal immigration, won 12 seats in a regional election for the first time since the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.
    This week, Vox used its position as kingmaker to join a center-right coalition after making a deal with the Partido Popular.
    Santiago Abascal, leader of Spain's far-right party VOX
    In return for its support, Vox negotiated a number of conditions with the PP, including commitments to lower taxes, combat illegal immigration, and tackle Islamic fundamentalism.
    Another intriguing addition to the list was "support for our traditions, hunting and bullfighting."
    At the same time, on the other side of the political divide, certain sectors of the Spanish left have been working in conjunction with animal rights campaigners to have the tradition banned.
    However this politicization is fairly recent, said Beatriz Badorrey Martín, author of Another History of Bullfighting: Bulls, Law and Society (1235-1854) and a lecturer at Spain's Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), in a phone interview with CNN.
    "Politically it has never had a color," said Badorrey Martín, a self-confessed fan of bullfighting. "Historically it has been part of life for all social classes."
    During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), both right-wingers and left-wingers organized bullfights as a way of raising funds, said Badorrey Martín, who emphasized that her academic research focuses on the earlier history of the sport.
    Spanish matador Ivan Fandino performs during a bullfight.