May 25th, 2012
11:36 AM GMT
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London (CNN) – Much of the beleaguered eurozone will grind to a halt Saturday for the Eurovision Song Contest, that continent-wide musical tussle of campness and political bickering watched by 120 million-plus TV viewers worldwide, which has launched Abba and Celine Dion among others.

But this year, one suspects, certain European countries may be quietly relieved if their own acts come an honourable second – or even draw the dreaded nul points.

Winning the annual Eurovision comes at an eyewatering cost: the victorious act determines the venue for the following year, with much of the financial hit is taken by the host broadcaster. On Saturday it’s the turn of Azerbaijan – criticized for its human rights record – after Ell and Nikki proved victorious in Germany 12 months ago.

When times are good, Eurovision is an excuse to throw a party for the rest of the Europe. But during a downturn, you might be tempted to draw the drapes, ignore the neighbors and pretend you’re not in.

Estimates for the cost from recent host nations such as Germany and Russia have put the final tally at anywhere between € 20 million and €40 million.

So who might win on Saturday – and be stung for costs in 2013? The market - or rather the bookies - have already rated this year’s contenders. Sweden is currently tipped as favorite - but several of the eurozone’s fragile economies make the top 15, including Italy (third favourite), Ireland (sixth), Spain (10th) and Greece (13th). Portugal can only be relieved it is a distinct outsider amid the field of 35.

One has to feel especially sorry for Italy. This is, after all, the country which abandoned its multi-billion bid for the 2020 Olympics earlier this year on the grounds that it would be “irresponsible” under its current economic circumstances.

Eurovision is hardly going to make an already flailing economy sink with a boom-banga-bang (to quote a UK entry from 1969). But if you were a beleaguered eurozone nation, would you want to juggle a multi-million singathon amid the daily grind of austerity measures, public strikes and repeated meetings with grave-looking delegations from bits of Europe faring slightly better than yourself?

Possibly the best solution, as with most European institutions, would be to locate Eurovision permanently in Brussels. Maybe it could be compered by a bespectacled technocrat appointed by the European Central Bank, complete with songs about fiscal responsibility and CG backdrops of shimmering pre-euro currencies.

Less random. Less fun. But more in keeping with today’s times.



soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Alex Povolotski

    I can't believe this article turned out to be on the front Business page of CNN!!! Is there nothing else to discuss?

    The financial world of Europe is about to collapse and they're discussing Eurovision!

    May 25, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  2. Sinkat Erkowit

    Permanently in Brussels? But the EBU, which organises this party, is located in Geneva, and has nothing to do with the EU.
    House it pemanently in Grand Saconnex, is my view!

    May 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  3. Freddy

    Alex, 126 million people watch this program so yes it is very relevant.

    May 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  4. Marc

    Someone ran out of inspiration and linked the eurozone (and its problems) with the eurovision song contest!
    Quite a few of the (potential) contestants are not in the eurozone at all (Iceland, Norway, Turkey, Israel, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republ, Serbia, the UK, Latvia, Lithuania; in random order and not exhaustive)

    Is this CNN at all?

    May 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  5. david evans

    Everyone should vote for Greece to watch Angela Merkel's face!

    May 26, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  6. Req Uired

    The author may be joking, but doesn't seem to understand the difference between Europe, the European Union, and the Euro-zone. There are only some of the Eurovision Song Contest participant countries that are in the European Union, and still fewer are in the Euro-zone. There is even one country that doesn't have any of its land within the borders of Europe – Israel.

    I am not sure that, say, Russia or Norway would appreciate having the contest in Brussels, and I am not so sure, say, Britain or Sweden would appreciate the involvement of the European Central Bank since they very well keep their own currencies, and are not directly involved in the Euro problems.

    May 26, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  7. Kweku Tanson

    What is the real reason for this article? Is it to go on with more Euro Bashing?
    Anyway, the last time I checked the Eurovision contest was a net revenue earner. Germany made a profit when they hosted the contest, besides that they got some good PR.
    CNN: we need opinion pieces that are well thought through. Not this.

    May 28, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  8. icons package

    Excellent phrase

    hpixel

    September 24, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  9. Joane Butkus

    Dion had first gained international recognition in the 1980s by winning both the 1982 Yamaha World Popular Song Festival and the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest where she represented Switzerland.-

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    April 28, 2013 at 6:17 am |

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