With all 37 participating countries at the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest almost certain to return in Helsinki next year, and with both Serbia and Montenegro stating their intention to enter the competition following the disengagement and independence of the two states, we are already set to have 39 countries participating in 2007. Today, esctoday.com spoke to Svante Stockselius, EBU's Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor, to confirm what would happen if more than 40 countries enter and for his interpretation of the rules.
Mr. Stockselius confirmed to esctoday that 40 is the maximum number of participants that will be allowed to enter the Eurovision Song Contest. If all 37 participating countries from 2006 return to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007, and Serbia and Montenegro return as separate countries after their withdrawal in 2006, there would only be one remaining spot for a new or returning country at the competition.
WithCzech and Georgian television interested in joining the competition, the possiblility that Lebanon will seek to enter next year (if they can agree to broadcast the Israeli song),and the possibilty that Austria, Italy and Hungarymay return, there could be a situationwhere 44 countries will apply to participate in Helsinki.
With only a month to go before countries must submit their decision on participation to the EBU, esctoday.com today contacted Svante Stockselius to confirm what would happen, should this scenario unfold before confirming the news that Montenegro will participate in Helsinki!
Mr.Stockselius confirmed that the current rules do provide for a solution: "First we will look at the countries' participation over the last five years, if that did not give the answers, we would move to a draw".
What does this mean?
- Should this scenario occur, Austria would definitely return to the competition if they enter, and would not take part adraw because they have participate in four of the last 5 years.
- Both Serbia and Montenegro should be included because they have partiipated in the competition twice in the last five years, albeit as one joint pariticipant in 2004 and 2005.
- So, if Serbia, Montenegro and Austria all apply, they would join last year's participants at the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest. No debut countries would be able to enter.
- Matters would become complicated if Italy was to return. Although this seems unlikelyin 2007, it would be very popular with fans of the Eurovision Song Contest. Italy would also have a case to join the 'Big 4' as part of a new 'Big 5' because they are one of the primary contributors to the EBU. This means that should they return, Armenia's place at the contest may be in jeopardy because they have only participated once and they may be forced out of the competition.
- If Italy do not enter, Serbia and Montenegro both enter as separate countriesand Hungary applies to return to the Eurovision Song Contest, a draw would be needed to select the 40th participant between Hungary and Armenia who have both participated once in the last five years. No new participants would then be able to enter in 2007.
- Without Italy, but including Serbia and Montenegro as separate countries and the return of either one of Austria or Hungary, Georgia, Czech Republic, Lebanon and any other country looking to enter the Eurovision Song Contest would be turned away.
- Should none from Austria, Hungary or Italyreturn and Serbia and Montenegro both participate,if Czech Repulblic, Georgia and Lebanonor any otherdebut country enter, a draw would be held to select one final participant in Helsinki.
Until the deadline for entry submissions passes, this will be a topic of debate for fans of the Eurovision Song Contest. In November, we will know which countries will participate in the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest.