“Oh, it’s all politics isn’t it? Everyone just votes for their neighbour”. Yeah, because most wars don’t start between neighbours do they?
So was the accepted logic that Western Europe have been and forever will be shafted by the infamous voting blocs. Now I will make a stand right here and say that I think they are misunderstood, and not nearly as malicious as people make out they are.
Geographical closeness and cultural closeness are tangled up. If the Greeks sing in Greek, who is going to understand (not only the language – understanding the words can nearly always aid your enjoyment) and enjoy it more than Cyprus – the only other Greek-language nation in Europe? It’s certainly simple enough to imagine a Cypriot getting more out of it than a Lithuanian, or a Spaniard or whatever.
So it’s not simply neighbourhood voting. It’s just that nobody notices it when it doesn’t happen. The UK and Ireland – two of the biggest whingers about bloc voting – have a long career of trading points, but even that is fizzling out now. Portugal gave more points to Ukraine in the last 10 years than noted ally Spain, for example.
I think one of the biggest cause-and-effect relationships in Eurovision is what happens when the nations performing (or qualifying) vary each year. Azerbaijan’s win had speculation that it was partly caused by Turkey not qualifying, squeezing the Muslim vote into a smaller pool. This year neither Bosnia & Herzegovina nor Turkey are in, could this give a boost to Farid?
Balkan blowout – everything must go
But the results this year have been unique – they have entirely eliminated one of the biggest blocs. The former Yugoslav countries are ALL out. Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, FYR Macedonia. Even further afield, with Cyprus, Bulgaria and Albania out too, only Romania and Greece survive from practically the whole Balkan Peninsula. Could the Balkan bloc vote be dumped wholesale on Greece and Romania?
It was a different story in the North. With only Latvia failing, 9/10 former Soviet states made it through. Scandinavia did even better, with 5/5 qualifiers. Could this blessing also be a curse? While blocs might focus on their favourite survivors in the final, the northern blocs are spoilt for choice. With several of these songs being favourites, could the resulting clash end in the bloc vote negating itself?
Saturday is going to be a results night that will be chewed over by Eurovision stats nerds for a long while to come. We are in uncharted waters here, guys…