Eurovision Song Contest: The Centre of Gravity Shifts to the East

Allemagne quartorze points, Royaume-Uni 14 points, la Russie 272 points, Ukraine 230 points, la Grèce 218 points. So it was a runaway victory for the Russian entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, held in Belgrade on May 24, and oblivion for most west European entries. The centre of gravity moves further east. See you in Moscow in 2009!

Some (western European) commentators see the modern contest as a great conspiracy of political block voting, with the Nordics, the Balkans, the East Europeans voting for their neighbours and so swinging the results.

But it seems the reality is much more complicated. It reflects the complex ethnic mix in so many European countries. The fact that Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine each gave the full 12 points to the Russian entry (as did Israel) reflects the size of the Russian ethnic population in these countries rather than any political block vote.

Likewise for the former Yugoslavia, with its intermixing of Serbian, Bosnian and Slovenian populations. Bearing in mind that you cannot vote for your own national entry, what more natural than to vote for your ethnic identity? Douze points for the cousins. By the same token, Turkey always does well from the German voters, mirroring its population of 2.6 million of Turkish extraction, although I see that this year Greece took Germany’s 12 points and Turkey only 10.

If you managed to miss three hours of the actual final, then you can treat yourself to a (brief) taster of any of the finalists – and maybe decide that the outcome was not so unfair after all. There’s an amalgam of western pop and eastern music which can work rather well – and is maybe part of a changing European identity – an eastwards shift in our cultural centre of gravity.