This Saturday will see the 57th Eurovision song contest take place in Baku, Azerbaijan. The competition, which started in 1956, was set up by the European Broadcasting Union to bring together a Europe which was still recovering from the Second World War. Since then we have seen hundreds of acts try to win the contest for their country but very few succeed.
Ireland holds the record for most wins with 7, followed closely by Luxembourg, France and the UK in a joint second with 5 wins. However this is mainly attributed to fewer countries participating in the early years; only 7 countries participated in the first contest 56 years ago compared to 42 entries this year.
In recent years though the Eurovision song contest has seen a fall in it’s viewers; Some attribute this to digital TV, but it could also be attributed to political voting or so called “bloc voting”; this is where countries with interlinked history and culture vote for each other, rather than other countries based on merit.
Azerbaijan’s win last year also meant that it was automatically eligible to host the event, which it more than happily accepted. But Azerbaijan’s human rights record is questionable and there are also certain questions to be raised about the ruling party’s participation in democracy with the current president taking over the role from his father in 2003 who had himself held power since 1993.
Should politics play any role in the Eurovision song contest? Or should we just use the night to enjoy an eclectic mix of music?
One thing is for sure, it’s great seeing the European community together singing in a multitude of different languages. Will you be watching the Eurovision song contest this year and if so who will you be supporting?