Germany’s Eurovision debacle ‘obviously political’, commentators say

Eurovision winner 2013.jpg

Germans lamented their unexpectedly poor showing at the Eurovision Song Contest, blaming Chancellor Angela Merkel's tough stance in the eurozone crisis for their failure to win any points from 34 of the 39 countries voting.

Denmark's Emmelie de Forest won the event, watched by around 125 million people across Europe, with 281 points while German act Cascada was 21st out of 26 countries, getting just 18 points from Austria, Israel, Spain, Albania and Switzerland.

"There's obviously a political situation to keep in mind – I don't want to say 'this was 18 points for Angela Merkel'," said Germany's ARD TV network coordinator Thomas Schreiber. "But we all have to be aware that it wasn't just Cascada up there on stage [being judged] but all of Germany."

Merkel is popular in Germany for her firm position during the eurozone crisis. But she is loathed in parts of Europe for her insisting on painful austerity measures in countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy in exchange for rescue packages.

"It's unexplainable," said ARD expert commentator Peter Urban on Sunday after Cascada singer Natalie Horler was 21st even though German media had touted her as a favourite. More than 8 million Germans watched, a 44% market share.

"Is it that people just don't like us?" Urban was asked on ZDF TV. "There's some truth to that," he said.

"There will be two German soccer teams in the Champions League final next week and maybe people didn't want Germany to win Eurovision too."

Germany won the contest in 2010 at a time when Germans were fretting about the eurozone's future, a fresh round of budget cuts and the cost of the Greek rescue.

>> Read: Eurovision brings German joy amid euro doubts

When the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) was formed in 1950 by 23 broadcasting organisations from Europe and the Mediterranean, it came up with the idea of an international song contest whereby countries, represented by their respective public broadcasters, would participate in one television show, to be broadcast simultaneously in all nations represented.

The first Eurovision Song Contest – one of the longest running television shows in the world – took place in May 1956 in Switzerland. Only seven countries participated at that time: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

More and more countries joined the contest up to early 1990s when many Central and Eastern European and Balkan states joined at once, followed by further eastward expansion of the contest to include states from the Caucasus in the 21st century.

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