Europe Day is past, so now it’s time to focus on that other great European (but non-EU) event – the Eurovision Song Contest. Iain Dale started to get me thinking about this. The contest is essentially unfair. A few thousand people favouring one song in Andorra give that act as many points as many tens of thousands in a larger country. So the real question would be this: who would win if all European citizens were equal and a country’s vote was proportional to its population, or at least the number of people calling in? Time for some debate about voting systems I reckon. STV anyone?
Maybe the British might do better that way as well… Before Scooch even step on the stage on Saturday they frankly have not got a chance according to the research conducted by the University of Surrey. The UK does not even feature on their major Eurovision axes – see the image above.
UPDATE – 11.05.07
Trust me, I had not seen the results of the Eurovision qualifying round before I wrote this post. It turns out that the Balkan axis managed to really stitch things up last night. See this from the BBC. Here are the bands that qualified:
Belarus – Koldun
Macedonia – Karolina
Slovenia – Alenka Gotar
Hungary – Magdi Ruzsa
Georgia – Sopho
Latvia – Bonaparti.lv
Serbia – Marija Serifovic
Bulgaria – Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov
Turkey – Kenan Dogulu
Moldova – Natalia Barbu
Looks like those Surrey academics really know what they are on about!
UPDATE 2 – 15.05.07
4 MPs have jumped on the ‘fairer Eurovision’ banwaggon by calling for the UK to withdraw from the contest unless voting reform is implemented. See this from the BBC. Sounds like a typical UK eurosceptic tactic – threaten non-cooperation rather than positive engagement. Oh, and maybe not having annoyed the rest of Europe by invading Iraq would have helped a bit too. Or we could split up the UK… Have a look at this excellent piss take from Political Penguin.
Rather than some nations like UK withdrawing from the contest in spite (although I can quite understand why they might wish to after Saturday’s result) , would it not be more constructive to introduce a zonal qualification system (as in World Cup football), where there is a prior elimination contest for each of, say, four geographical zones, roughly NW, Southern, NE and SE zones, with say 4 nations from each qualifying for the final? This would result in a more even cross section of finalists across the diversity of European culture.
I’d also like to know how the televoting is carried out and audited. I am fairly confident this would be auditable and transparent in UK, for example, but remain to be convinced about some other areas.
Finally, I sat with a very varied set of friends at a Eurovision party in London (not all British by any means) on 12/5, and not a single person placed Serbia in their top 5 (although Ukraine and Russia were certainly in favour as potential winners). There was definitely a residual feeling that the result was not a fair reflection.
Hi Jon, I did quite a lot of thinking on the Eurovision contest lately and also some calculations. The 3 biggest blocks Russian (speaking), Balkan and Nordic (Scandinavian) actually are composed by 26 countries that represent approximalely 375 Mio citizens. This seems an overwhelming majority, doesn’t it? So I think no matter what voting system will be chosen these countries will still manage to vote the songs they want. Of course the result will change a bit but not significantly.
It’s another issue if at all it’s right to make the songs and countries compete with each other on first place. I believe if it’s a simple concert or performance of any kind it would be very different and, to me at least, much better. Only then we would also see the diversity Manu is talking about. Altough to me it’s not the langueage that is playing such a key role but far more the actual music and way of performing.
I want to ask you something, i guess you watched the contest on the BBC, how did you find the comments of Terry Wogan? I found some of his remarks absolutely unappropriate and rude even and definately not what I expect to hear on the BBC One. And yet most of the British people I talked to found him very “entertaining and witty”…
P.S. Thanks for voting for Bulgaria, Manu, very good choice 🙂
Well, pessimism belied… Quite a lot of songs in the countries’ native languages.
What really struck me was the overwhelming dominance of Eastern Europe (not that I regret it: I voted for Bulgaria).
And the winner song was in Serbian. So A+ for Eurovision, although there is still some room for improvement on the multilingualism front.
But without dissatisfaction, would progress ever be achievable?
Looking forward to seeing whether this self-proclaimed European (bu in fact almost only English-singing) contest will turn out to actually reflect, for once, European diversity. I’ll probably watch it, but I’m not overly optimistic…