Austria wins Eurovision 2014 – and Russia most definitely does not
Austria’s Conchita Wurst was voted the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen on May 10 – on an evening that few mindful of the ructions on Europe’s eastern fringes could have missed the significance of the booing at every mention of Russia.
While so many media reports had been obsessed with the weirdness of the bearded Conchita, there was so much more significance in the messages sent in the final round of voting by the 37 countries entitled to apportion their votes among the 26 finalists.
When, a few days earlier, it emerged that Russia and Ukraine both were in the finals, headlines on many media sites proclaimed that politics had come to Eurovision. That is disingenous, to say the least, considering the patterns of voting in Eurovisions past – of regional allegiances and, it has been alleged, darker motives.
But the regional trade-offs of the past, among the countries of the Balkans for instance, dwindled into insignificance in contrast to the booing audible to television audiences across every European television channel broadcasting Eurovision.
The geopolitics of Central and Eastern Europe were much in evidence. Belarus handed their, maximum, 12 points to Russia; Russia handed their 12 points to Belarus.
The same Russia handed seven points to Ukraine, one less than the standard third-rate grade that countries may award. Did they deduct one point for Crimea?
Ukraine handed eight points to Austria, contributing to the victory of the Androgynous Hirsute One, 10 to Armenia and 12 to Sweden. Well, all things considered, any votes on their part for Russia would have been improbable at best.
Moldova, widely reported as next on Vladimir Putin’s shopping list, handed eight points to Russia, 10 to Ukraine and 12 to Romania, the latter perhaps very understandably, given that the United States military and Nato do not customarily take part in Eurovision.
The Baltic States’ example is best exemplified by Lithuania: Norway eight points, Austria 10 and the Netherlands 12. Could it be that the Baltic States do not want to dance to Moscow’s tune?
Poland handed points neither to Russia or Ukraine.
Armenia gave Russia 10 points and none to Ukraine.
Finland (no difficulty in any internet search regarding its history with Russia) gave eight points to the Netherlands, 10 to Sweden and 12 to Austria.
Perhaps there is admiration for Austria’s post-World War 2 tradition of neutrality. Perhaps there is a certain charm about Austrians with apparently negotiable gender identity with beards. Perhaps it was all about the tunes. But perhaps, amid all the jollity and frivolity associated with Eurovision, there is a genuine anger in much of Europe with the recent actions of Russia. We could all hear the booing.