EDITORIAL – Throughout the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, politics had a big say in the way the event was organised and taking place. Here are some of the examples with politics deeply involved in the Eurovision Song Contest.
When it comes to Eurovision, one thing that has become as predictable as the ludicrous outfits and high kitsch performances is controversy. From tactical voting to political scandals, this contest has had it all.
- In 1978, Jordan refused to broadcast the Israeli entry and viewers were instead shown pictures of flowers. When Israel then won, Jordanian broadcasters cut the transmission and its media announced the following day that runners-up Belgium had come first. Lebanon attempted the same trick in 2005 when Greece won, but were forced to withdraw for a breach of contest rules.
- When Israeli transsexual Dana International was chosen to represent the country in 1998, religious groups protested and parliament called for a replacement. But in a bizarre twist, she then won, resulting in thousands of Israelis taking to the streets in celebration.
- It has since been claimed, in a Spanish documentary, that dictator General Franco rigged the 1968 Eurovision to boost Spain’s flagging tourism. British act Cliff Richard, whose entry Congratulations came second, is still bitter.
- Israel’s 1973 Eurovision entrant had to sing while wearing a bulletproof vest, after Palestinian militants had massacred Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics the previous September.
- Georgia’s 2009 entry was banned for violating the Eurovision ban on songs with overtly political content. It was called ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In’ and was about their recent war with Russia, whose Prime Minister was Vladimir Putin.
- Austria boycotted the contest in 1969 in protest that it was being held in Spain. Turkey were forced to do the same thing in 1979 under pressure from Arab states who objected to a predominantly Muslim country taking part in a contest which was that year being held in Israel
- Following Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Cyprus, Greece withdrew its 1975 entry in protest over Turkey’s inclusion. In 1976, Turkish TV then refused to broadcast the Greek performance.
- The most controversial political gesture occurred in 2000 when Israel’s entrants ended by revealing Syrian flags and calling for peace. It emerged that two of the group were journalists who wrote about cultural affairs for the newspaper Ma’ariv
- In 2012 Armenia forced to withdraw as there were no clear safety precautions whether the Armenian entrant will be properly allowed in the country due to the rivalry over NGK.
- In 2004 though Turkey, which doesn’t recognise Cyprus as a state and therefore the Greek Cypriot passports allowed the Cypriot participant and delegation warmly welcoming them. A year ago, in a good will gesture Cyprus government allowed the northern Cyprus viewers to participate in the Eurovision televising ultimately attributing the first ever points to Turkey which actually brought them the trophy.
- Don’t forget that in 2016 the winner song was about the Tatar deportation as part of a personal story of the singer’s family. Not until the end of the contest international media though, mentioned that Tatars were Nazi allies!