Pathways to #Eurovision victory 2022: Ukraine

This year’s Vidbir, the Ukrainian national selection, was won by Kalush Orchestra with Stefania. Eventually:

(Source: YouTube/Eurovision Song Contest)

Or, rather, Kalush Orchestra was given the opportunity to represent Ukraine after the original victor in their national final withdrew: once again, the issue of travel to Crimea reared its head. The timelines of all this unfolding are rather striking:

  • 12 February: National final
  • 16 February: Allegation of illegal travel to Crimea leads to withdrawal
  • 22 February: Eurovision ticket awarded to Kalush Orchestra
  • 24 February: Russia invades Ukraine

Stefania finished second at Vidbir because the jury ranked them third: Tina Karol had Stefania second, Jamala had Kalush Orchestra third. Suspilne (the Ukrainian public broadcaster) board member Yaroslav Lodyhin had them sixth. Perhaps Mr Suspilne doesn’t appreciate hip hop? Pash received eight points and Kalush Orchestra six from the jury.

It bears mentioning that Kalush Orchestra topped the public vote with nearly half of all televotes cast: 48 per cent Initial winner Alina Pash was second with 25 per cent (no one else got more than seven per cent). But these are converted to the same range of points as the jury, giving Kalush eight points and Pash seven. Their totals were 15 versus 14 points: had the jury ranked Stefania one place higher, Kalush Orchestra would have won outright: tie breaks are broken by the televote score in Ukraine.

Since the invasion Stefania has been used in social media as a rallying cry for Ukrainians and appeared as the soundtrack of many videos about the war, including:

(Source: YouTube/MusicKaif)

No one can resist Kalush, not even… (Source: YouTube/Monolit я)

How might Ukraine win the 2022 Eurovision? Read on.

Pedigree

Similar to Sweden, Ukraine has one of the strongest string of performances at the Eurovision. In fact, they remain the only country with a 100% qualification rate when in a semi-final. Here’s their most recent Grand Final results:

YearArtistSongScore (rank)TelevoteJury
2011Mika NewtonAngel159 (4th)168 (4th)117 (7th)
2012GaitanaBe My Guest65 (15th)37 (20th)125 (7th)
2014Zlata OgnevichGravity214 (3rd)2nd6th
2015Mariya YaremchukTick-Tock113 (6th)112 (8th)87 (12th)
2016Jamala1944534 (1st)323 (2nd)211 (2nd)
2017O.TorvaldTime36 (24th)24 (17th)12 (24th)
2018MélovinUnder the Ladder130 (17th)119 (7th)11 (26th)  
2020Go_AShum (Шум)364 (5th)267 (2nd)97 (9th)  

Four top 5 results, including one win; one additional top 10 result. Of the remaining four entries, Under the Ladder was still in the televote top 10 and Be My Guest was in the juries ‘top 10. In contrast with Sweden, it is the public that lifts Ukrainian results rather than juries, in most years.

The Russosphere

While the Scandinavians might be the Eurovision’s most persistent voting bloc, the Russosphere bloc–including countries with significant numbers of person who understand Russian and are likely to consume its cultural outputs–and is larger.

Unlike the Scand bloc, whose support skews mostly towards Sweden at the expense of all other bloc members, both Russia and Ukraine have both done persistently well from countries either from the former Soviet Union or ones that have a significant Russophone population, bearing in mind that not all Russophones are ethnic Russians. And not all Russians are supporting Putin.

Russia is absent banned from the 2022 Contest, which would already increase Ukraine’s potential to top many Russosphere countries’ televotes. The maximum potential televote score from the nine members of this bloc in Turin (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Israel, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Georgia, Moldova) is 108 points. Netting douze points from even half these would be a significant boost to Ukraine’s chances of victory.

Diaspora+Solidarity

Currently there are a lot of Ukrainians who have fled the war. A lot. In fact, as of 08 May 2022):

CountryUkrainian refugeesTransit or settlement
Poland3.1 millionBoth
Romania857 thousandBoth
Hungary557 thousandBoth
Moldova453 thousandBoth
Slovakia391 thousandBoth
Germany400 thousandSettlement
Czech Republic330 thousandSettlement
Bulgaria231 thousandSettlement
Italy110 thousandSettlement
Spain74 thousandSettlement
Austria64 thousandSettlement
France53 thousandSettlement
Lithuania51 thousandBoth
Estonia36 thousandBoth
Israel35 thousandSettlement
Portugal33 thousandSettlement
Sweden32 thousandSettlement
Belgium30 thousandSettlement
Denmark30 thousandSettlement
UK27 thousandSettlement
Latvia26 thousandSettlement
Switzerland24 thousandSettlement
Ireland23 thousandSettlement
Finland21 thousandSettlement
Greece21 thousandSettlement
Netherlands21 thousandSettlement
Slovenia18 thousandSettlement
Croatia17 thousandSettlement
Norway11 thousandSettlement
 Source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2022_Ukrainian_refugee_crisis

The countries immediately bordering Ukraine, Belarus or Russia (some Ukrainians have travelled within Russia to access the EU via Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia) have accepted a lot of persons who will not settle in these countries. For example, one estimation indicates around 11, 000 Ukrainian refugees have settled in Estonia, many of whom who have relatives in Estonia. it’s still a lot of people.

As well, there were over a 1 million Ukrainians working in Poland before the war started. One estimation is that between 1.5 and 2 million Ukrainian refugees have remained in Poland. That’s a massive number of people. RESPECT.

In theory, if every displaced Ukrainian cast one vote for Ukraine on Saturday night, that could produce a massive televote score across these 28 countries.  If others who see the televote as a way to express solidarity with Ukraine, that increases the likelihood Stefania getting a high televote score in each of these countries.

That’s a potential 336 televote points from these 28 countries—and there’s another 11 countries not on this list, including Russosphere countries like Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Cyprus, that are also voting. A high solidarity vote isn’t out of the question in any country.

The highest ever televote score was Duncan Lawrence’s 376 points for Arcade in 2019. Don’t be surprised if this record falls on Saturday night—even if there’s one less delegation in Turin compared to Tel Aviv.

What to Watch For

In 2021 Italy were fourth with the juries, 61 points behind Switzerland. But Måneskin’s 318 televote points were 51 points ahead of next ranked…Ukraine. If there are a small number of entries well ahead of the rest after the jury votes—and Stefania is among them—Ukraine have every chance to win.

1944  is the only Ukrainian entry in the last decade to land in the jury top three: even with more than 100 points to make up in her televote score, Jamala defeated Australia’s Dami Im thanks to a massive televote. If Ukraine are in the top five after the jury results come in, regardless of the gap, they have an excellent shot at victory.

But it’s also conceivable Ukraine could win with an even lower jury score if their televote score is massive. Since 2016 our winners have relied on a televote proportion of their score as little as 49.6 per cent (Portugal 2017) and as much as 60.69 per cent (Italy 2021) for victory.

The lowest winning score under the current system was Netherlands 2019 – 498 points—in a year with 41 competing entries. This year we have 40, so the winning score could perhaps be lower. Regardless, assuming our winner this year needs around 500 points or more to win, 40 per cent would be 200 or more points for the jury score and 300 or more televote points. So if Ukraine is around 200 points after the juries their chance look especially strong. But if the split is 30 jury and 70 televote, a jury score in the low 100s might also be enough.

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