Whilst many people claim that the emergence of Russia and Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest is detracting from the competition and proving that political or neighbourly voting damages the credibility of the result, esctoday.com investigates the changing powerhouses of Eurovision from a new angle. In the 1980s and 1990s, the two countries with continuing and constant success were Ireland and the United Kingdom. Whilst political voting was not a reason, it is strongly believed that language rule was.
In the 1980s and 1990s (up until the language rule was changed to allow countries to compete in any language), Ireland won the Eurovision Song Contest 6 times and managed to finish in the top three places a further three times. The United Kingdom achieved two victories and eight top three finishes at the competition. The advantage that the two countries had was that they sang in a language understood by far more voters than any other.
Removing the language rule to allow countries to sing in any language ended the dominance of the English speaking countries with immediate effect. Neither country has achieved a top five finish since. At the same time, only Serbia`s victory in 2007 was achieved without English lyrics.
The new powerhouses of the Eurovision Song Contest appear to be Russia and Ukraine. With the increasing number of countries from the former Soviet Union competing in the competition, their position grows increasingly strong. Russia`s victory follows a third place finish in 2007 and a runners-up spot for Dima Bilan in 2006. Ukraine have finished second two years in a row, with some fans renaming the country as UK-raine, mimicking the United Kingdom`s regular second place finishing position.
Despite winning the Eurovision Song Contest with a clear lead over Ukraine, Greece and Armenia, Russia`s seven top marks came from six former Soviet nations and one country with approximately 10% of the population being recent Russian immigrants.
The Eurovision Song Contest has been a story of 53 years of development and evolution. At times, a critical point is reached where a change is necessary. The language rule change, the introduction of the semi final to allow more countries to compete, and the introduction of two semi finals to balance the chances of countries to qualify for the final are all examples of this.