The Eurovision Song Contest was put together with good intentions, as a way to unite the countries of Europe in the post-war period. The competition was a way to showcase the talent and culture from individual countries, and give them a major platform. This contest is truly a show of the power of music: due to the fact that there are virtually no material prizes, simply just the declaration of being the winner. It is amazing that this competition been able to prosper on for this long with high participation and the attention that it gets.
Although, originally this contest was a way to unite countries all across Europe in the post-war period, more specifically to create common ground between the East and West, it is apparent that this competition has a bias towards Western European Countries. The countries with the most winners goes as follows: Ireland (7 times), and France, the UK, Luxembourg, The Netherlands (5 times). (Eurovison.tv) This is not to say that there have not been non-western European Winners, but it is still valid to point out this fact. There is also an apparent western bias with the “Big Five”. Germany, Italy, France, The UK and Spain are automatically granted qualifications for the finals due to their major financial contributions to the EBU. (Vuletic 12) It seems unfair to include something like this in a contest, especially due to the fact that many countries do not have the same financial security that would allow them to make major financial contributions to the cause. What are some scenarios that could have stopped the creation of a western bias? Or was it unavoidable?
The ESC has also become a platform for political messages to be conveyed especially when there is conflict between participating countries. A recent example is the conflict between Russia and Ukraine with the Crimean Peninsula. The 2016 winner, Jamala, representing Ukraine, sings about the deportation of Crimean Tartars in 1944 which directly impacted her family. Since there was an active issue about the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, the Eurovision council banned flags that do not come from the official country participants in the arena. This included a ban for flags like the Crimean Tatars to be in audience, and only the Ukrainian flag was allowed by her Crimean Tatar supporters. What does an act like this say about music and politics? Was it ever possible for a contest like this to avoid the inclusion of politics and simply be a music contest?