So by now you will have read the “Eurovision headlines” in various spheres alleging favours-for-votes. To the seasoned follower of Europe’s favourite television show, these headlines may not come as a surprise. This sort of story appears every year without fail. And they often come from countries whose noses are a little out of joint as a result of where they finished.
But are things different this time? Well, to start with, the mainstream press has picked up on certain allegations, which is unusual (Here). But with the information-hungry world we’re now living in, it’s increasingly difficult to keep a lid on what could be anything from sour grapes to serious breaches of trust. We remember the tale several years ago that the Spanish Government of 1968 bought votes in exchange for promoting ‘friendly’ country’s attractions, and it arguably stopped one of the biggest Eurovision songs of all time from winning. No action was taken due to the time elapsed between the incident and its reporting.
More recently, a certain country is reported to have hauled in for questioning any inhabitants who voted for a neighbouring enemy country. Again, no action was taken by the powers-that-be, in spite of the speed that story made the headlines.
We must bear in mind that only one country wins the Eurovision Song Contest, and over 30 countries do not. So, potentially, 30+ countries have axes to grind because “their best friends Outer Ruritania” didn’t vote for them. And it’s always one country’s word against another.
These stories do need to be investigated. There might be truth in the rumours that are going around – conversely they might all be the above mentioned sour grapes. But it brings us to the wider question of what can be done to ensure cheating will not prosper. The televoting clearly needs to stay. For a song that wants legitimacy in Europe, the people of Europe need a say. And with the best will in the world, unless a country blatently fixes its result, a population will be far too big to be influenced by a small amount of jiggery pokery. However, up to 20 votes can be given from any given phone line. The technology is obviously there, so this should perhaps be restricted to a far smaller number.
We also need the jury. But it needs to be bigger. Five members can be influenced far too easily. Maybe we should go back to 16 people, half from the entertainment industry, and half lay people. And the 16 taken from all ages and demographics in a country.
What else could we do? Well, since the fan base usually tends to know what it’s talking about, is there a place for an extra fan jury to give a set of votes? After all, the Junior ESC has an extra ‘kid’s jury’ to give an extra set of votes. A fan jury can be taken from the accredited press corps, as they know their stuff, and are still likely to vote with the heart and not the head. Controlled checks and balances could be put in place to ensure a suitably impartial jury.
In the end, for a song to win it needs more than votes from countries culturally similar. Denmark won in 2013 because it had the best song. Azerbaijan was second, but a very distant second. For any country to ‘buy’ a win these days with nearly 40 countries taking part, they need to do an awful lot of influencing. And, after all, it’s only a song contest (but that’s another story).
Author/Eurovision Ireland’s newest member – John Stanton (You will be seeing a lot more of John over the coming year – welcome)
Source: Eurovision Ireland & Uk Independent