Advertisement

The Eurovision Song Contest in the Musical Diplomacy of Authoritarian States

  • Dean Vuletic
Chapter
Part of the The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy book series (SPIRP)

Abstract

Originally established in 1956 for Western European states, the Eurovision Song Contest has been the world’s largest popular music event and one of the most popular television programs in Europe. It is organized annually by the European Broadcasting Union, whose members now include public broadcasters from almost every European state. As it is based on national entries, Eurovision provides an interesting case study of how states have imagined and branded themselves for a pan-European audience, while its voting results have been used as a measure of how different national publics perceive each other.

This chapter focuses on why authoritarian states have used Eurovision in their public diplomacy to assert national distinctiveness, express geopolitical alliances and whitewash their international image. The chapter includes examples from Portugal and Spain in the 1960s and 1970s, Yugoslavia during the Cold War and Azerbaijan, Belarus and Russia after 1989. The chapter will consider the economic and political factors that have motivated these states to invest significant resources into their participation in Eurovision, as well as why some of these states have been more successful in appropriating popular music in their cultural diplomacy. The political debates that have taken place across Europe over the participation of these states to the Eurovision contest are also addressed.

Bibliography

  1. Antidze, Margarita. 2012. Iran’s ‘Gay’ Eurovision Jibes Strain Azerbaijan Ties. Reuters, May 22. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/22/azerbaijan-iran-idUSL5E8GM61H 20120522. Last Accessed 12 Apr 2017.
  2. Buchanan, Jane. 2012. “They Took Everything from Me”: Forced Evictions, Unlawful Expropriations, and House Demolitions in Azerbaijan’s Capital. New York: Human Rights Watch. Available at https://www.hrw.org/report/2012/02/29/they-took-everything-me/forced-evictions-unlawful-expropriations-and-house. Last Accessed 12 Apr 2017.Google Scholar
  3. Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe. 2015. Third Party Intervention by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Under Article 36, Paragraph 3, of the European Convention on Human Rights: Application No. 69981/14 Rasul Jafarov v. Azerbaijan. Strasbourg, 30 March 2015.Google Scholar
  4. Elder, Miriam. 2013. Eurovision Song Contest: Russian Foreign Minister Wades into Voting Row. The Guardian, May 21. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2013/may/21/eurovision-russian-foreign-minister-voting-row. Last Accessed 12 Apr 2017.
  5. Eugster, Ernest. 1983. Television Programming Across National Boundaries: The EBU and OIRT Experience. Dedham: Artech House.Google Scholar
  6. European Commission. 2011. Statement of President Barroso Following his Meeting with Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan. Brussels, 22 June 2011. Available at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-11-466_en.htm. Last Accessed 12 Apr 2017.
  7. European Parliament. 2013a. European Parliament Resolution of 24 May 2012 on the Human Rights Situation in Azerbaijan. Official Journal of the European Union C 264 E, September 13.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 2013b. Negotiations of the EU-Azerbaijan Association Agreement. Official Journal of the European Union C 258 E, September 7.Google Scholar
  9. Eurovision Amends Rules, Does Not Sanction Azerbaijan. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, September 17, 2009. Available at http://www.rferl.org/a/Eurovision_Changes_Rules_But_Does_Not_Sanction_Azerbaijan/1825025.html. Last Accessed 12 Apr 2017.
  10. Eurovision Song Contest: Vote Rigging Countries Face Three-Year Ban. The Guardian, February 6, 2014. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/feb/06/eurovision-song-contest-vote-rigging. Last Accessed 12 Apr 2017.
  11. Germany Slams Lukashenko over Slur. Der Spiegel, March 5, 2012. Available at http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/better-to-be-a-dictator-than-gay-germany-slams-lukashenko-over-slur-a-819458.html. Last Accessed 12 Apr 2017.
  12. Gluhovic, Milija. 2012. Sing for Democracy: Human Rights and Sexuality Discourse in the Eurovision Song Contest. In Performing the ‘New’ Europe: Identities, Feelings, and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest, ed. Karen Fricker and Milija Gluhović, 194–217. Basingstoke/Hampshire/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  13. International Radiotelegraph Conference. 1933. (Madrid, 1932), General Radiocommunication Regulations Annexed to the International Telecommunication Convention; Final Protocol to the General Radiocommunication Regulations; Additional Radiocommunication Regulations Annexed to the International Telecommunication Convention; Additional Protocol to the Acts of the International Radiotelegraph Conference of Madrid, Signed by the Governments of the European Region. London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  14. Kundera, Milan. 1984. The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Trans. Michael Henry Heim. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  15. Lozano, Juan Francisco Gutiérrez. 2012. Spain Was Not Living a Celebration. TVE and the Eurovision Song Contest During the Years of Franco’s Dictatorship. View: Journal of European Television History and Culture 1 (2): 11–17.Google Scholar
  16. Lukashenko: Eurovision is Totally Biased. BelTA, April 30, 2013. Available at http://eng.belta.by/president/view/lukashenko-eurovision-is-totally-biased-14871-2013. Last Accessed 12 Apr 2017.
  17. Lyall, Francis. 2016. International Communications: The International Telecommunication Union and the Universal Postal Union. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Martínez, Sílvia, and Amparo Sales Casanova. 2013. Afterword: Mediterranean Love Songs: A Conversation with Joan Manuel Serrat. In Made in Spain: Studies in Popular Music, ed. Sílvia Martínez and Héctor Fouce, 196–203. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Mihovilović, Maroje. 1976. Jer što je nama Eurovizija? 24 March.Google Scholar
  20. Niggemeier, Stefan. 2012. Eine Imageschaden? Glaube ich null. Der Spiegel, May 6. Available at http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/tv/esc-eurovision-chefin-deltenre-ueber-menschenrechte-in-aserbaidschan-a-831791.html. Last Accessed 12 Apr 2017.
  21. Pack, Sasha D. 2006. Tourism and Dictatorship: Europe’s Peaceful Invasion of Franco’s Spain. Houndmills/Basingstoke/Hampshire/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pinto Texeira, Luisa, and Martin Stokes. 2013. And After Love…: Eurovision, Portuguese Popular Culture and the Carnation Revolution. In Empire of Song: Europe and Nation in the Eurovision Song Contest, ed. Dafni Tragaki, 221–239. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press.Google Scholar
  23. Ruiz, Aníbal Arias. 1970. ‘Operation Plus Ultra’: A Genuinely European Radio Programme from Spain. EBU Review: Part B (General and Legal) 120: 30–32.Google Scholar
  24. Simões, Soraia. 2012. Passado-presente: uma viagem ao universo de Paulo de Carvalho. Lisbon: Chiado.Google Scholar
  25. Sultanova, Shahla. 2012. In Eurovision Spending, Azerbaijan Is a Clear Winner. Transitions Online, April 20. Available at, http://www.tol.org/client/article/23107-in-eurovision-spending-azerbaijan-is-a-clear-winner.html. Last Accessed 12 Apr 2017.
  26. Van Steen, Gonda. 2015. Stage of Emergency: Theater and Public Performance Under the Greek Military Dictatorship of 1967–1974. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Viñuela, Eduardo. 2013. Popular Music in Televisión Española: Cultural Policies, Consumption and Spanish Identity. In Made in Spain: Studies in Popular Music, ed. Sílvia Martínez and Héctor Fouce, 178–185. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Vukov, Vice. 2003. Tvoja zemlja: sjećanja na 1971. Zagreb: Nakladni zavod Matice Hrvatske.Google Scholar
  29. Vuletic, Dean. 2010. European Sounds, Yugoslav Visions: Performing Yugoslavia at the Eurovision Song Contest. In Remembering Utopia: The Culture of Everyday Life in Yugoslavia, ed. Breda Luthar and Maruša Pušnik, 121–144. Washington, DC: New Academia.Google Scholar
  30. Woodhead, Leslie. 2013. How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin: The Untold Story of a Noisy Revolution. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dean Vuletic
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of East European HistoryUniversität WienViennaAustria

Personalised recommendations