UKRAINE – Bookmakers predict “Stefania” by Ukrainian folk-rap ensemble Kalush Orchestra to win the cult competition on May 14 in Turin, northern Italy. Organizers excluded Russia following its late-February invasion of its neighbour.
According to prominent bookies, Kalush Orchestra is the clear favourite, followed by Italy. “Brividi” by Mahmood and Blanco aspires to emulate last year’s worldwide success of lederhosen-clad rockers Maneskin with “Zitti e Buoni.”
Anything is possible with Eurovision, which last year garnered 180 million people throughout Europe.
“The audience clearly supports Ukraine, but I doubt it will win,” said history and Eurovision expert Dean Vuletic.
“While the Ukrainian entry is good, there are other submissions of excellent quality,” he told AFP.
It’s not the first time war cries have been heard in the tournament, which began in 1956 with just seven nations.
- Disputes in the Balkans have often spilt over onto the Eurovision stage. 1993 Bosnian and Croatian entries didn’t do well but then again there was no public voting.
- In 2019, Ukraine withdrew from Eurovision when its artist refused to tour in Russia,
- and in 2018, Moscow ally Belarus was removed, a decision it denounced as politically motivated.
According to Benoit Blaszczyk, secretary of France-Eurofans, Ukraine will receive the “sympathy vote” but not only that. “They have a fantastic song,” he told AFP, adding that Ukraine “gets attention every year, they are typically ahead of their time.”
Formerly known as the Nordic and more recently the Central or Eastern European blocs, states have regularly voted together in the past.
Studies show that voting blocs do not decide victors.
- It was the 11th best song in Turin, according to OGAE’s over 4,400 members who voted.
- Following Poland, Spain, France, Norway, and Sweden were crowned by Ukrainian OGAE enthusiasts.
- Pro-Moscow Serbia took the top spot with 12 points, followed by Lithuania, Spain, and Latvia among Russian supporters.
- Slobodan Todorovic, editor-in-chief of the Serbian fan site Evrovizija.rs, requested each performance be assessed on its own merit.
- It would betray Eurovision’s ideals of impartiality, independence from politics, respect for and celebration of variety, according to Mr. Henriques.
Even Kalush Orchestra do not win the Eurovision Song Contest, many think they have won just by being there. That they may leave the nation and get words of support is already a triumph, according to Vuletic.