The rules of Eurovision are clear: tele-hook must remain entertaining. But its 66 years of existence prove that it does not always succeed in escaping the geopolitical crises rocking Europe.
The 2022 edition of Eurovision is expected to be more political than ever. This 66th edition, whose final will take place on May 14 in Turin, is being prepared in the midst of the Russo-Ukrainian War. The conflict has already affected the course of the competition: Russia was excluded from it last February, and Ukraine has been in first place in expectations for weeks.
There is no way to predict what will happen on May 14th at the Palasport Olimpico. But this futuristic release is already part of a long tradition of competition: the flare-up of geopolitical tensions in this entertainment of 200 million viewers, in one form or another.
Because although there is a slate Any speech committed is expressly prohibited – If not for the benefit of living together, then this is the core value of Eurovision – 66 years of competition have taught us that the quarrels of the countries competing there cannot be escaped. A look back at some of the political outbursts that shook the competition the most.
• 1964: A protester took to the stage against Franco and Salazar
The emergence of politics on the arena of competition can be traced back almost to its origins. In 1964, two dictatorships participated in Eurovision: Franco’s Spain and Salazar Portugal, who had just joined the competition.
Despite the many voices calling for the exclusion of these two countries, they are represented on the evening of the final match in Copenhagen. Which led to a brief scandal: in the middle of the show and just before the Belgian candidate entered, A man appeared on the scene “Franco and Salazar Province” banner raised.
“The director immediately offered another plan,” Alain Fontaine, former secretary of Eurovans, a French fan club for Eurovision, told BFMTV.com. “It only lasted a few seconds, and the viewer didn’t understand anything. The protester was fired.”
• 1968: “No, no, no” controversy
To compete in the thirteenth session, in 1968 in London, Spain decided to send the singer Juan Manuel Serrat and her title. The, the, the. Problem: The artist plans to sing in Catalan, which does not please the Franco-Spain authorities.
The interior of the kitchen made it possible to quickly solve the problem: Joan Manuel Serat was overthrown, and then replaced by singer Maciel. You’ll perform the same song on Castiglian’s final night… and win.
• 1969: Austria’s political absence
In 1969 a moral problem arose: after Spain won the previous edition, the competition was organized for the first time by a country under a dictatorship. If countries like France, Great Britain or the Netherlands go to Madrid, Austria misses the call.
employment Eurovision official websiteWe remember a vintage 1969 model when Austria decided to “stay at home”. But according to many sources, to which Alain Fontaine is added, this withdrawal is actually a boycott: “Austria did not come because the evening was taking place in Franco’s Spain.”
• 1976: Turkey withdraws due to the entry of Greece
Turkey’s Eurovision tour was full of controversy. The first came from her first participation in the competition, in 1975. That year, Greece retreated to protest the incorporation of Turkey, which had invaded Cyprus the previous year. In 1976 the opposite happened and Turkey did not return, and Greece returned to the competition.
to me Time Magazinethe song proposed by Greece that year (Panagia Mo, Panagia Mo) was suspected of provoking the invasion of Cyprus. If Turkey aired the 1976 competition, it censored the clip coming from Greece.
Some would say that this conflict is reflected in the voices of these three countries. Since the start of the competition, Greece has distributed 400 points to Cyprus, which returned 419 … and Turkey offered only 10 points to Cyprus for 12 points.
Turkey has not entered the competition since 2012. In 2018, the head of Turkish public television TRT said he had no plans to return to the competition, directly attacking the values of LGBT inclusion in the competition.
• 2003: An amazing province of the United Kingdom
If music history doesn’t hold for Jemini, the British pop duo from the early 2000s, they’ve marked Eurovision history. On May 24, 2003, in Latvia, the two artists and their song Cry dear It arrives last in the ranking without points from the audience as well as many jury members. the famous Scratchrare and scary by all candidates.
It must be said that their performance was not the most quality of the evening, their hesitant and off-key vocals carried it. But many observers at the time raised a slightly more biased reason to explain this general boycott: the UK’s commitment, a few weeks before the competition, to the war in Iraq.
Sad result that the UK did not renew … until last year. In 2021, James Newman and his song embers He failed to impress the audience and the jury and took last place in the ranking. Calendar Chance This edition of Eurovision was the first since the United Kingdom’s actual withdrawal from the European Union. From there to make a link…
• 2007: Did Ukraine sing the song “Goodbye Russia”?
Coincidence or provocation? In 2007, Ukraine was represented by drag singer Verka Serduchka and her song Dance Lasha Tumbay. The singer interprets her nickname as a delirious mix of English, German, Russian and Ukrainian. But the track generates a lot of frowns in Russia: “Lasha Tombay,” repeated several times in the song, is very similar to the pronunciation of “Russia, goodbye.”
Verka Serdochka defended herself by asserting that the Mongolian term means “whipped cream”. It’s actually gibberish, according to Time Magazine. The controversy did not prevent her from taking second place at the end of the competition.
• 2009: Georgia’s Subconscious Message
When Georgia embarked on the competition in 2009, it emerged from a difficult year: last summer was marked by a violent war against Russia led by Dmitry Medvedev, who had just succeeded Vladimir Putin, over the breakaway province of South Ossetia.
It was Moscow that hosted the competition that year. To represent her in Russia, Georgia chose the group Stephane, 3G and her song put in the disco. “We don’t want to be put in passive motion,” they sang to the artists in their choir.
The similar sound between “put” and “Putin” does not escape the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which is responsible for organizing the competition. The choir is suspected of making a play on words, which can be translated as “We don’t want Putin.” The organization is asking the Georgian delegation to rewrite the song or devise a different song, it reported BBC on time. The latter publishes a press release denying any political references in its text and declares his retirement from the competition.
• 2009: Israel calls for peace
For several weeks between late 2008 and early 2009, tensions between Israel and Palestine erupted into the Gaza War. These clashes end on January 21. the world It was reported that 1,400 people were killed on the Palestinian side and 13 on the Israeli side.
In this context, the Israeli delegation will send a duo of Israeli-American Noah and Arab-Israeli singer Mira Awad to represent it in Moscow. Their song mixes Hebrew, Arabic and English, and its title leaves no doubt as to the message it wishes to convey: There must be another way (“There must be another way,” literally).
• 2017: Ukraine refuses entry to the Russian candidate
Eurovision 2017 event without Russia. Ukraine, which hosted the competition in Kyiv that year, refused entry to Russian contestant Yulia Samoilova. Reason: A concert given by a 27-year-old girl in June 2015 in Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Moscow in March 2014.
The controversy began a few months before the competition when the Ukrainian Special Services (SBU) banned the Russian candidate from entering its territory for three years. The participation of Yulia Samoilova by satellite is briefly envisaged before being abandoned. The young woman finally participated in Eurovision the following year, in Lisbon, with the title I won’t break. But she failed to qualify for the semi-finals.
• 2019: Iceland shows its support for Palestine in the Israeli version
On the evening of the Eurovision 2019 final, hosted by Israel, all eyes were on the Icelandic candidates. The members of Hetari, a rock punk band with an SM aesthetic, have been talking about them for months by showing their support for Palestine.
As stated at that time Times of IsraelThe artists announced their plan to use the Eurovision Theater to show their political sensibilities. They even invited Benjamin Netanyahu, the then prime minister of the Hebrew state, to face them in a glima match, a form of Scandinavian wrestling.
Their performance in the end went unimpeded. We had to wait until the end of the evening for their adventure: while the points were being distributed, Hatari waved scarves in the colors of the Palestinian flag in front of the cameras. They took 17th place in the competition. A few months later, the European Broadcasting Union announced a “fine according to the rules of the competition”, the amount of which was not disclosed.
Madonna, who was invited on the same evening to participate in the competition, during her performance was surrounded by intertwined dancers who raised the Israeli and Palestinian flags.
Time will tell what the 2022 edition finale holds. For now, all contestants are sticking to the line: music, not politics. “We love the (Ukrainian candidates’) song,” French candidates Alvin and Ahiz explained to us in a recent interview, before recalling: “We are in a singing competition. Obviously, we have an opinion but we reserve it. For us, we are entertaining.”