Outrage reined across our nation yesterday as we learnt the fate of Dami Im in Eurovision – she was so close to winning and pipped at the post at the last minute by Ukrainian artist, Jamala. Australians – a fiercely competitive populace – had to settle for second place. So, what went wrong?
Our country sought someone to blame, we collectively complained: ‘We were robbed’, ‘We were better than the Ukraine’ and ‘the new voting system is rigged’.
But is any of this actually legit?
Us being robbed only can really be truthful if there was systematic failure in the voting system. Eurovision devotees quickly identified the change of voting format as the underlying factor. But with or without the change – it’s not certain that Australia would have won.
We were told that the voting system has not changed at all – in any practical sense and has only changed in a ceremonial sense. Rather than all the jury and public votes wrapped up together, they were announced separately – probably to build suspense but instead it just ended up giving Australia a false sense of triumph.
Although we will have to wait for a full breakdown of the jury and public votes to be released and calculated using the old system in order to compare.
The public vote is where Australia lost our winning position. Without that jury vote, Australia could have suffered a much worse result. We need to remember, this is Eurovision and political voting and neighbour-supporting voting is what this competition is built upon.
— Liam Stack (@liamstack) May 14, 2016
Traditionally the Balkans, the former Soviet Union and Scandinavia countries vote for one another. Considering Australia has no neighboured allies, we did amazingly. As we did last year with Guy Sebastian placing fifth – but Im did it without a handy boost into the finals.
If we are invited back (fingers/toes crossed) it looks like we could definitely win Eurovision. But did we actually deserve to win this year?
Whether we were better than the Ukraine or not is of course a subjective debate but one that is worth noting the background to the Ukraine’s Jamala‘s entry.
Jamala is the first Crimean Tatar to perform at the contest, and her song ‘1944’ tells of the Crimean Tatars’ deportation during World War II.
The song deals with some pretty serious stuff, such as Stalin and claims of ethnic cleansing, with Jamala dedicating the performance to her great-grandmother and her five children, who were deported by Soviet troops.
— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw) May 14, 2016
The Ukraine winning is deeply meaningful as former Soviet countries that would normally vote for Russia, sent a powerful message by voting for the Ukraine instead.
This is not just capturing a moment in history but the current tensions in the Ukraine, since Russia had seized Crimea in 2014. The BBC reported that Ukraine’s 2004 Eurovision winner, Ruslana, had said the song ‘1944’ had struck a chord.
— Jessica Alice (@jessica_alice_) May 14, 2016
“This song… is precisely what we are all suffering in Ukraine today,” she said.
While Im may have a stronger singing voice, is there much point arguing over which ‘deserved’ to win, in circumstances such as this, given Jamala’s connection to the song and its significance in a wider context of Ukraine/ Russia foreign relations.
We were the underdogs and we absolutely slayed the competition. Australia’s competitive spirit is overshadowing how amazing it is that we came second.
Australia was beaten by a truly deserving country, and to unfortunately quote Bring It On:
It feels like first.
Header via Telegraph, EPA/ Maja Suslin.