The song contest exposes national rivalries.
This year’s Eurovision Song Contest looked more like a rerun of the 1st World War rather than a music competition as power blocs emerged, reflecting ethnic and cultural divisions and trans-national pacts and rivalries. An analysis of the voting patterns showed the Balkan and eastern European countries in particular were sticking together.
• Greece received maximum (12) marks from neighbouring Albania and Serbia and fellow Greeks in Cyprus.
• Cyprus in turn were rewarded with 12 points from none other than Greece!
• Croatia received maximum marks from neighbouring Slovenia, Bosnia and 10 marks from Serbia.
• Croatia repaid the compliment by awarding 12 marks to Serbia and 10 to Bosnia and 8 to Macedonia.
• Bosnia in turn gave 10 points to Serbia, 8 to fellow Muslims in Turkey, 7 to Macedonia.
• Macedonia in turn gave top marks to neighbouring Albania, 10 to Serbia, 8 to Croatia, 7 to Greece.
• Moldova received maximum marks from Romania and Ukraine, the two countries which surround Europe’s poorest nation and 10 from Russia, no doubt a nod to the ethnic Russians living in this disputed territory.
• Ukraine’s entry was considered dire by the entire voting panel except adjacent Poland who gave their neighbours top marks, extraordinary!
• Russia received top marks from pro-Russia Belarus, 10 from Moldova and 7 from each of the former Soviet Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Such voting patterns were not however confined to the Balkans and the former Soviet Union. Scandinavians were busy slapping each other’s backs. Norway picked up top marks from Denmark, Finland and Iceland. Norway rewarded friendly Denmark with top marks and Iceland gave Denmark 10.
Western European voters seem to have been the most unbiased of the bunch but entrants from Ireland, Iceland, Belgium and the Netherlands all scored “nil points” and France, Germany and the UK only just managing to save face with a handful of points apiece. Competition for the economic pie.
One has to ask if this kind of bloc voting is restricted to light hearted musical events or carried through into voting tactics in supra-national institutions such as the EU.
Of course not all the 39 entrants into the Eurovision are members of the 25 nation-state EU but many are and several others such as Bulgaria and Romania are candidates for membership over the next few years and such rivalry shows how flawed the whole concept of a “united Europe” really is.
The cliques, blocs and pacts emerge where there is no common goal, where there is no defining common interest and where there is pressure to compete for a bigger share of the economic pie. Making decisions with such bias and intense rivalry about a piece of entertainment is one thing, making decisions in Strasbourg or Brussels about policies which have a profound impact on social and economic matters in all member states is quite another.
The sheer numbers of those that vote for their own national interest dwarfs the UK’s influence in a “united Europe”.
A united Europe is less about harmonising trade rules and more about who has the biggest voice to receive funding, acquire concessions and negotiate better deals.
Horse trading with friendly nations and nations who have something in common are perfectly acceptable behaviour in such institutions.
If Turkey is admitted to the EU, as looks likely within the decade, it will be the single largest voice and hundreds of millions of Euros are already pouring into Turkey to prepare itself for EU accession.
A real European identity Going back to Eurovision - the competition has a potential to reflect the genuine indigenous music of Europe, with entries from bands playing modern popular music which draws upon the roots of the nation, region or tribe and reflect the rich heritage of each nation.
It has the potential to broadcast to the continent the rich diverse musical traditions of the European peoples instead of being a mirror of the cosmopolitan, the bland, and the synthesised throwaway pulp devoid of any connection with the historical and cultural roots of the entrant’s nation. It was clear that some of the Balkan entries in particular had looked to their own cultural roots to create sounds which are very different to western styles but were nonetheless entertaining. Compare these to the bland entries from western European which were a mish-mash of non-European hip-hop, rap, urban sounds or bland uninspiring love songs performed by look a-likes singing in International English.
Top marks for the entry from Moldova, the poorest country in Europe who pulled off a stunner with a performance which was sung with great enthusiasm in both Romanian (their native language) and English.
The bizarre, even surreal tribute to a grandmother who played a drum was hilarious from start to finish and it seemed as if they were having a laugh at the whole competition.
Sadly the issue of Britain’s continued membership of the European Union is no laughing matter and the sooner we can take back control of our own national sovereignty the better.
I spent 90% of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted - George Best