Eurovision: can the war in Ukraine influence the result?

Eurovision, European song show, followed by more than 180 million viewers, is it about to be influenced by the geopolitical situation? This famous competition which has always proclaimed the fact of being outside any international context, would it see its result influenced by something other than musical performance? Asked at a press conference about the political dimension of Eurovision, Martin Österdahl, executive supervisor of the show, replied a few days ago: “The strength of Eurovision is the values ​​behind which we can all find ourselves. 66 years ago, we created this event devoid of all fights and convictions and politics. And I believe that we are still capable of it”. For him, no world political event could disturb this unique celebration. However, a few hours before the grand final, the bookmakers place a winner in the lead: Ukraine. According to these punters, the country that experiences an invasion by Vladimir Putin would have a 59% chance of winning over its other 24 competitors. A percentage rarely reached on a final day. But is it really thanks to the quality of its song “Stefania” that the Ukrainian rap group Kalush Orchestra could win the crystal trophy?

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Russia disqualified from 2022 edition

It would be inconceivable to think that at a time when one of the countries participating in the biggest European music competition is invaded and when families are forced to leave their homeland at the risk of their lives, this event would not have impact on Eurovision. Especially since, from February 25, 2022, the day after the entry of Russian troops into Ukraine, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes Eurovision, excluded Russia from the competition. An unprecedented decision, even though the competition was created in 1956, to strengthen ties between the peoples of the Old Continent after the Second World War. This time around, the contest took a stand and sanctioned Russia by banning it from competing in its 2022 edition.

A decision applauded by Kalush Orchestra, the Ukrainian candidates, interviewed by ELLE in Turin: “We think it is right that Russia has been excluded from many events, such as Eurovision and others. After all, this is all done to make the Russian people understand that in 2022 one country cannot attack another. Those who are in Russia and still do not understand this should think about such things. »

While some eurofans deplored this radical stance, explaining the pointlessness of punishing a people for the decisions of its leader, others were relieved that the competition was maintained after it was canceled in 2020 due to Covid. “It’s incredible that Eurovision can be held this year, especially with the circumstances in Europe,” Matthias Korte, a 30-year-old German fan, told AFP. “The values ​​of Eurovision are Europe coming together and sharing music”. Russia thus disqualified, do we really leave room for music?

Read also :“I want Putin to die”: the anger of Ukrainians in Paris

A vote of “compassion”?

Suffice to say, several opinions clash. First of all, it is interesting to remember the history of bookmakers this year. Before the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin, Kalush Orchestra was only given in the middle of the ranking, around the 16th square. By February 28, just days after Russia invaded Ukraine, they had climbed back to the top of the rankings. Since then, the group has never left the first place of the estimates for the victory of Eurovision 2022.

Folded case? Not necessarily. The positions diverge. First of all, there are those for whom the song “Stefania” resonates all the more with the current situation as it speaks of a mother – a metaphor for the motherland – on a very modern folk rap sound. The singers, who received a special exemption to come to Eurovision after having fought for several weeks there, are proud of this message: “After the Russian invasion, a lot of people started looking for additional meaning in it. For example, those who are sad about not being able to see their mother right now. That’s why the song is now in the hearts and ears of Ukrainians.

Also, “Stefania” has broadened its meaning to all mothers who take care of their children and protect them from the scourge of war. From the song about a mother, it has become the song about the homeland. »

If some will vote, obviously, by conviction for this song, many think that there will surely be a vote of “compassion”. As if to give strength and hope to the Ukrainian people on our small scale. Asked about this question, the Kalush Orchestra do not believe in this hypothesis even if they thank the huge boost of solidarity they receive.

Read also :Eurovision: the 20 most unforgettable candidates of the contest

And if Ukraine were not victorious?

The third opinion on the possible victory of Ukraine is that it will not win the competition. Dean Vuletic, competition expert and author of “Postwar Europe and The Eurovision Song Contest” explained to our colleagues of “20 minutes” that he did not believe in a victory for Ukraine, even in this context. For this specialist, there is a “hype” and an “overestimation” of the rating of Ukraine. It must be said that the song is special and that it can please or displease the public. Traditionally, on the night of the final, people only vote for the song they really like, especially when you have to pay for a premium SMS. In other words, nothing is done and there may be surprises. Historically, Dean Vuletic recalls that in 1993 Bosnia and Herzegovina participated with a meaningful song, while it was at war. “All the pain in the world is in Bosnia tonight, I’m staying to defy the agony,” went the refrain. However, she only finished in a very disappointing sixteenth place. However, Ukraine’s last Eurovision win came with a song that referenced a tragic context. In 2016, singer Jamala performed “1944”, a prayer of lamentation over the tragedy of the Crimean Tatars, two years after the annexation of Crimea by Russia. Place your bets.

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