This editorial is written from the opinion of the author and does not represent the views of the other editors, the EBU or escYOUnited as a whole.
Tomorrow, barring any major surprises, the UK will select their entry for 2018 which will be the last time that the UK participates in Eurovision as a member of the European Union (EU). All over Europe, but especially in London, politicians and civil servants are working out how Brexit will affect the economy, industry, travel and so on. But it seems no one has considered the issue closest to our hearts. No report has been released charting the impact leaving the EU may have on the UK’s chances of success. Nothing, that is, until now!
It is well known across the Eurovision world that the UK hasn’t had a great time of it in Eurovision in recent years. Pre-qualification (PQ) to the Grand Final thanks to its status as a member of the Big Five has maybe eased the fears of qualifying from a semi, but with a best result of 5th in the last ten years – and two wooden spoons – the UK is hardly living up to its record as one of Eurovision’s most successful countries. Maybe, just maybe, by leaving the EU, the UK will shake off the shackles which have been holding it back for so long. Let’s look at the numbers!
As is my wont with these things, I have looked at the last ten years of Eurovision to assess whether there is a noticeable difference in success rates for EU and non-EU countries. Obviously, as the UK gets a pre-qualification, I am only concerned with final ranking, not qualification chances. Only countries that are full members of the EU are counted as being in the EU – Switzerland, Norway, San Marino etc. are all non-EU countries – and I have taken the UK as a standalone so it doesn’t count as either an EU or non-EU country. It should also be noted that, as there have been 25-27 finalists in this period, the “average” ranking in the final is 13.36, not a nice easy round number! So, let’s start with the UK’s average ranking… 19. Oof. Not a great result there. Clearly starting from a low base! Now, let’s look at how well the rest of the EU does…
14.43. Wow, OK, so perhaps our first shock so far; being in the EU actually means you’re likely to do below average! Despite the majority of recent winners being from the EU, you’re actually better off out of the EU in terms of final ranking, and by quite some margin as the average non-EU ranking is 11.35 – over three places higher than EU countries! Maybe this was the secret all along? Leaving the EU is actually part of a top-secret masterplan for British Eurovision success!
Now, I am sure that some of you would like to point out that the all of the Big Five are EU countries, as well as half of the PQ entries in this period, and as such have pre-qualification to the final. This means that weaker entries do not get eliminated in the semi final, so it is more likely that the EU countries do badly because the PQs will always drag their average ranking down. This is actually true to an extent, as the average PQ ranking (again, excluding the UK) is 15.47, so even lower than the EU average. Perhaps then, this is the way forwards: Forgo a PQ and allow people more time to fall in love with the song and push it into the Grand Final!
So why does being in the EU actually harm a country’s chance? Well, firstly the EU countries tend to be the veteran Eurovision members and so have perhaps less to prove as they have a long-standing record to show off. Moreover, whilst the EU is indeed a powerful force for European unity, there are a number of long-standing groupings which straddle the divide – witness the Scandinavian countries where Iceland and Norway are out of the EU, but Finland, Sweden and Denmark are within it. Clearly these cultural similarities will easily trump EU membership when it comes to musical tastes. I am not comparing this to bloc voting – often cited just after the fourteenth country in a row has given the UK nul points – merely highlighting factors which will play a larger role in similarities in tastes.
So to conclude, it appears that the numbers favour an increased chance of success for the UK once we have left the EU. Perhaps we can throw caution to the wind tomorrow when selecting our entry, knowing that our true chance at Eurovision victory will come in 2019 when we enter the fray as a non-EU country. Given our recent dismal failures, I’m frankly prepared to hope that SOMETHING can make a difference!
Do #YOU think Brexit will herald a change in the UK’s fortunes? Who do #YOU want to see representing the UK this year? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!