Today, Switzerland became the first country to announce their 2008 Eurovision Song Contest entry. As told to esctoday.com, the Swiss entry will be titled “Era stupendo”. The country has selected a Swiss singer from the Italian speak region of the country, and he will perform the song in Italian. San Marino confirmed last week that they will make their debut at the competition in May. In 2007, Latvia qualified from the semi final with a song in Italian, something no song in French has ever achieved. Today, esctoday.com asks the readers… What more does RAI need before bringing Italy back to the Eurovision Song Contest?
The debate about whether Italy should or would return to the Eurovision Song Contest has raged for ten years since their last participation. In 2006, a breakthrough seemed on the cards, and Italy was set to return to the competition, only for the plans to be torpedoed at the last minute by the highest levels of the national broadcaster, RAI.
Against these odds, San Marino will join the party in Belgrade with their first ever entry to the Eurovision Song Contest. The tiny country's national broadcaster, SMTV, is 50% owned by RAI, and several board members also sit on the Italian broadcaster's board. Surely, if they can be persuaded to deliver San Marino to the competition, there seems hope that they would do the same for Italy.
RAI invests a lot of time and money in the San Remo music festival, a competition that is thought to be the big brother of the Eurovision Song Contest, and a major donor of the original Eurovision Song Contest ideals and concept. In recent years, it has been used as an excuse by some for Italy's refusal to participate as funds and talent are diverted to their own competition.
Certainly, the EBU would welcome the return of Italy. The country's size and wealth would make it the fifth highest contributor to the annual event. The two-time winning nation has seen some of its best talent take to the stage, and helped launch the career of Gigliola Cinquetti, the country's first winner.
Of all major sized countries in mainland Europe, only Slovakia and now Austria remain on the sidelines with Italy. The rise in the number of countries and ability for the Eurovision Song Contest to absorb them is a testament to the original ideals of the competition – to promote peace and cultural understanding in Europe. While the current televoting rules seem to show people are far more understanding of their closest neighbours and countries from where their ancestors lived rather than understanding musical tastes across the board, it is clear that the Eurovision Song Contest is doing more good than harm.
HAVE YOUR SAY
The question simply remains, will Italy return, and what can be done to bring them back to the competition? Does the Eurovision Song Contest lack a missing ingredient without their participation and will San Marino and Switzerland fill the gap? Rather than complaining about the high number of participants, would you like to see Slovakia, Austria and Italy return so that the Eurovision Song Contest can be hailed as a competition for every citizen of every European country? Have your say in the reactions below.