Saturday, 15 March 2008
Thank you for those people who have contacted me after my comment about Israel and the Eurovision Song Contest. Looking into the Contest's history is actually quite fascinating and there are many parallels between the European Song Contest and the European Union itself.
The Eurovision Song Contest was first held in 1956 in Switzerland and was broadcast as a Radio Programme. The countries coloured green in the map above where the 7 countries originally involved (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Switzerland). Austria, Denmark and the UK were going to compete but were disqualified as they failed to register a song before the contest closing date.
The contest was won by the Swiss entry. The voting system allowed juries to vote for any competing song, including those of their own country but as Luxembourg failed to send any judges the Swiss delegation (as the host country) were allowed to vote twice. The scores for this Contest have never been made public and only the winner was announced, no other placings were revealed. The winner, coincidentally, was Switzerland!
The song “Refrain” was sung in French and was never released commercially which has caused suggestions that it actually placed very low and was chosen for political purposes. Rumours placed Germany second thus justifying Germany hosting the second Contest, and a possible third place was mentioned for Belgium.
So incompetence, unrepresentative juries, behind the scenes deals, secret voting and alleged fixing for political purposes. It appears from reports that all these were evident in the Eurovision Song Contest back in 1956. With a pedigree like this the Eurovision Song Contest could almost be a model for decision making in the European Union today.