The Eurovision Song Contest is “harmful to the relationship between the peoples of Europe” – at least according to one UK politican, who has made a stand this week about the effect of the contest on European harmony.
Liberal democrat MP Richard Younger-Ross suggested that participating countries voted for their neighbours rather than the songs they liked best, and added that British broadcaster the BBC should insist on voting changes, or withdraw completely from the contest. According to Younger-Ross, the vote is based "largely on nationalistic grounds" and renders the contest a "joke".
The minister has tabled a Commons early day motion, taking the matter officially before the British parliament, and already he has gained the backing of fellow MPs Colin Reed, John Robertson and David Drew.
A review of the voting procedures has also been advised by MaltaSong chairman Robert Abela, who suggests an end to televoting as long as "the EBU cannot 100% monitor how the system is being done in some of the ex-Soviet countries". In Germany too, Eurovision celebrities such as 1982 winner Nicole are quoted on the "dirty trade in points every year", calling not for review, but complete withdrawal of the country from the contest.
Younger-Ross' criticism that the contest harms European relationships could be turned on its head if we look at the history of the alleged vote-swapping countries. At war a mere decade ago, the exchange of points between former enemies could be taken as a sign of blossoming friendships between old rivals.
Other voices in the media have also jumped to defend the contest. British Eurovision expert Derek Gatherer, who has spent years analysing voting patterns in the contest, suggested that Younger-Ross criticism was "a bit heavy", and pointed out that only a third of Serbia's winning score could have been influenced by the neighbourly voting factor. Moreover, Serbia was the winner of many pre-contest polls, both of the prediction and favourite variety, across Eurovision fan sites all over Europe. A large contingent of Western European fans are more than happy with Molitva as a winner – the first non-English ballad to win the contest in a long, long time.