Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Manifesto for Victory

Living in Ireland, the Eurovision means a lot to me.

Lately though, Ireland’s relationship with the Eurovision has been one of unrequited love. Ireland hasn’t won since the ‘new countries’ – mostly Eastern European- were let in to the Eurovision. Irish people, and the Irish media, behave like it is their god-given right to do well in the Eurovision. Successive attempts by Mickey-Joe Harte, Chris Doran, Donna and Joe McCaul, Brian Kennedy, Dervish, Dustin the Turkey and this years Sinead Mulvey and Black Daisy have ended in failure. After every failure, the same chorus of gripes comes up from Ireland- “the Eastern Europeans ruined it on us by bloc-voting” , “Ireland will never win it again” , “we should automatically qualify for the final because we’ve won it the most times”. But what can Ireland do to restore the nation’s honour in the Eurovision? Well, here are a few pointers;

Have an irresistible song and a talented singer.

The reality, as demonstrated by the winning song in this year’s Eurovision, is that a great song can transcend political and national boundaries and win. Although Alexander Rybak’s “Fairytale” won “douze points” from the usual suspects; Sweden, Denmark and Iceland; it also got top points from places as far away (both politically, culturally and geographically) as Armenia and Turkey. Apart from singing the song, Rybak wrote the song and played the violin. In his own words; “I won because I had a story to tell.” Looking back at successful songs from the past (“What’s another year”and “Waterloo” for example), story-telling proves to be popular.

Get new friends in Europe.

Cyprus has given Greece twelve points every year since televoting was introduced in 1998 and Armenia has never given points to Turkey (recalling the Armenian genocide of the early 20th century). This year, awaiting the announcement of the Azeri votes, I was able to predict that Azerbaijan would give their twelve points to Turkey. Why? Simply because Azerbaijan had been involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict against Armenia in the early 1990s, and Turkey (as The Ottoman Empire) just happened to be the Armenians’ colonial oppressors. Similarly, I knew that Iceland would not give their former rulers Denmark any top points. Having friends in Europe counts. People in Ireland will be well aware of the fact that Ireland have rarely given the UK top points. As an island nation, Ireland needs all the friendly continental votes it can get. How will we do this? Well, maybe if we...

Ship Irish people abroad to smaller countries (e.g. Andorra or San Marino).

The other factor which can lead to mass accumulation of points is having a diasporic community. Unfortunately, most of Ireland’s emigrants went to the USA, Australia or Canada (although Ireland regularly gets twelve points from the UK). Turkey regularly profits from their diasporic population, this year receiving twelve points from Germany, Belgium and Switzerland. People from around Mullingar are unlikely to care if they are moved to San Marino or Andorra, and would perhaps relish the better weather. When there they can vote in the yearly contest and get us a valuable twelve points. The population of Andorra and San Marino are so small that a few thousand Irish people could influence the vote significantly. I suggest sending the residents of Sallynoggin to San Marino, Athlone to Andorra and Laois to Liechtenstein.

Build links with other countries that we share cultural similarities with.

After seeing the similarities between the Irish and the Basques in the recent RTE documentary “Blood of the Irish”, why don’t we show the good people of the Basque country that we are just like them. After seeing this, voting for Ireland in the Eurovision would become a symbol of resistance against the Madrid establishment, and all the while, we would nab Spain’s twelve points. Similar links could be forged with the people of the Spanish provinces of Galicia and Asturias and the French departement of Britanny (who we share a Celtic history and language with). As well as these links, we could look at cultural links with European nations with whom we share a colonial past, such as; Hungary, Finland, Cyprus and Estonia.

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