Esctoday.com talked with José Poiares, the Head of the Portuguese delegation, about the Portuguese participation in Belgrade, the voting system and plans for Portugal's participation at the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest.
In this interviewJosé Poiares talksabout the Portuguese participation in Belgrade, the impacts of this year's results, the first time Portugal got into final and RTP’s plans to Moscow.
From the Eurovision experience in 2008 what positive aspects can be taken in consideration for the 2009 ESC participation?
"This year's participation in Belgrade was quite stimulating foreveryone involved – RTP, thecomposer, music producer and the artists involved. Inthe last few years we haverevamped theFestival da Canção with new music producers, trying to diversify and innovate the contest with different styles of music. In Belgrade, we had thecombination of a great performer and excellent music production led by Carlos Coelho. The Portuguese people gave us full credit andwe did our best like in previous years but we went further this time."
All the optimism and hope that Senhora do Mar generated among fans and journalists was quite a “phenomenon”. Did you ever imagine Portugal could win and organise the Eurovision Song Contest?
"The last few years we felt a special feeling ofaffection from the fans and journalists towards our songs, but this year the reactions and expectations were higher than ever. Even so, I did not think we could win this event for the simple reason we were competing with the best songs in Europe. Winning is not impossible, but it’s very difficult. Besides having a strong competition we also have the voting system that has not been very "nice’’ for the countries in the West for the reasons we all know".
How have you been observing voting evolution in the last fewyears when many countries have good results constantly due to the system? Do you consider thatthere has been a great deal of voting imbalance?
"I think that the geographical proximity has some influence in the voting, but this “attraction” for the neighbours comes from the past. What happens is that these countries are numerous and imbalance the voting".
What do you think about having a jury in the new voting system of the final?
"I think it is an excellent measure and it will assure that thesongs have more quality to them".
What were the suggestions given by RTP in the questionnaire sent by the EBU?
"As I said before, I am favourable to a mixed voting with a jury and televoting. Our suggestions were in that direction, though I don’t understand why there isn’t a full mix voting in the semifinals".
How important is it for RTP to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest? What is the main purpose in taking part in this event?
"The Eurovision Song Contest is a great event in the European television calendar and RTP thinks it is very important. Our main concern is that the participating song represents Portugal with dignity. But we also take part to win as any of the other contestants. We have tried many different ways of selecting the songs that represented us very well. I don’t think there is a magic formula to lead us to victory – or is there? – and we don’t know it yet."
The reaction of the Portuguese people was very positive. RTP had good viewing figures in the semifinal and final. Do you consider we can use this positive reaction and generate a renewed interest for Eurovisionwith the Portuguese people?
"I think that the Portuguese are always hoping and anxious for a good result in all areas and ould love to see Portugal come out as a winner. It is logical and natural. When it comes to the Eurovision Song Contestit is clear that we would like to see Portugal winning, but we haven’t been so far."
What ideas does RTP have for the 2009 Festival da Canção. Will you open the song selection to unknown or amateur artists?
"Currently we are workingon the last details for the 2009 Festival da Canção and it is notcertain if we will open the selection to everybody who wants to take part. We want to open up more and be more active in the choices of the participants. The procedure is yet to be defined for 2009. We will have more news at the end of October. The list of participants may include producers who took part in past editions."
Esctoday would like to thank Mr José Poiares for this interview.