FOR the first time in its history, the Eurovision Song Contest has had to be cancelled – because of the coronavirus pandemic. The first semi-final of what would have been the 65th contest was scheduled to take place tonight in the Rotterdam Ahoy arena in The Netherlands, with the second semi-final on Thursday and the final on Saturday.

Instead, there will be a one-off special show on Saturday night from Hilversum in The Netherlands called Europe Shine a Light.

To coincide with the non-contest, a report has been published by two Scottish researchers which concludes that the long-held theory of countries voting for their friends and allies is true.


DR Isaac Tabner, from Stirling University Management School, and Dr Antonios Siganos, from the Adam Smith Business School at Glasgow University, wrote the report which many people will say is just confirming what the public already knows.

This is a very serious report, however, entitled “Capturing the role of societal affinity in cross-border mergers with the Eurovision Song Contest”.

The two researchers looked at the contests from 1999 to 2013 and found that each country’s votes for its favourite song can give an indication of the likelihood and nature of business exchanges across borders.

They concluded: “This research demonstrates that simple voting in the Eurovision Song Contest actually captures more complex elements of relationships which are driven by emotions, familiarity, psychological distance, and feelings of intimacy.

“We found that countries which share above average voting in Eurovision are likely to share more cross-border mergers between businesses. The flipside of this, where countries deliver below average votes for each other and share fewer business transactions, is also true.

“Voting patterns also correlate with levels of foreign direct investment and migration movements across borders. Of course, there are other factors which influence business exchanges between countries, including: sharing a border, the distance between capital cities, the degree to which languages are shared, and whether or not armed conflict has taken place between the countries in question.”


OVERALL the UK has done pretty well with five winners, the only Scottish one being Lulu whose song Boom Bang-a-Bang shared first place with three other nations in 1969. Ireland is the most successful country with seven wins, while Sweden has won six.

The UK has also been second a record 15 times, but since the last British win in 1997 in Dublin when Katrina and the Waves sang Love Shine a Light, UK entries have been steadily worsening in their results.

Since 2000, the UK has only finished twice in the top 10, and has been outside the top 20 on 10 occasions times, finishing plumb last four times, including the extraordinary feat of Jemini in 2003 who infamously scored “nul points”.

Last year’s British contestant Michael Rice gained just 11 points in last place with Dutch entrant Duncan Laurence winning with 498 points for the song Arcade.


OVER the decades there have been obvious affinities indicating bias, not the least of which has been the UK and Ireland. After the collapse of communism and the arrival of former Soviet countries into the European Broadcasting Union, which organises the contest, it was soon clear that they were all mutually supportive.

Bias against countries, and the UK in particular, got so bad that in 2008, Tory MP David Amess tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling for the UK to withdraw.

He wrote: “This House believes that the Eurovision Song Contest is no longer a music competition, but is more about politics than about talent.”

He said that “with great sadness” he was calling for the UK’s withdrawal from the competition until the format was changed to reward musical virtuosity over political allegiance.

The voting system was changed the following year to bring in jury and popular voting simultaneously, and a dozen years on, the UK still takes part in the contest.