Depending on your perspective, Russia has either withdrawn from Eurovision 2017 or been forcibly ejected. Regardless of your take, there’s a new question on the horizon: Which countries benefit the most from Russia’s absence? The path is now clear for another country to make it out of Semi-Final 2. And the incredibly large Russian diaspora vote is now up for grabs. Let’s take a look at this new dimension to the contest.
VOTING PATTERNS TOWARDS RUSSIA
We decided to look at the voting data of this decade so far (from 2010 to 2016). Russia has participated in every edition of the contest and has received a high amount of televote and jury points from former Soviet countries (Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia), as well as from countries with large Russian diasporas, particularly Germany and Israel.
Russia has received an average of 7.62 points from these countries each year since 2010, the highest for Sergey Lazarev last year in Stockholm, with an average of 11.1 points from these countries, and the lowest for Alexey Vorobyov in 2011 with an average of 5.3 points from these countries.
Of the total points given out from these eleven countries, 55% of all scores awarded to Russia have been above 8 points. The highest average came from Belarus with an average of 10.4 points awarded to Russia and the lowest came from Georgia with 5.1 points. We mustn’t forget that Russia and Georgia entered this decade whilst at war. But there is still a great deal of shared history and members of each nation’s diaspora living in the other.
WHICH COUNTRIES WILL BENEFIT FROM RUSSIA’S WITHDRAWAL?
Russia was originally drawn to perform in the second semi final in performance slot number three. Russia were to compete against their neighbours Belarus, Lithuania and Estonia as well as having Israel competing and Germany voting in this semi final. Other neighbouring countries in the first semi final are Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Armenia and Latvia.
One of this year’s big favourites comes in the form of Kristian Kostov from Bulgaria. He’s currently second in the betting odds, owing to the quality of his entry “Beautiful Mess”, which is well-produced and delivered with vocal maturity that belies his 17 years.
Of all the contestants left in the competition, he has the strongest connection to Russia. Born in Moscow to a Bulgarian father and a Kazakh mother, he was raised in the city and rose to fame on The Voice Kids Russia under the guidance of Russian megastar and former Eurovision winner Dima Bilan.
He is a recognisable face and name within the Russian community throughout Europe and the lack of a Russian singer will only elevate him higher on the scoreboard. Sofia 2018 seems like an increasingly realistic outcome as May approaches.
Belarus’ NAVIBAND is the other country in Semi-Final 2 likely to pick up Russia’s diaspora vote. Being one of Russia’s closest neighbours in terms of culture, lifestyle and language, Belarus’ entry “Historyja Mahjo Zyccia”, performed entirely in Belarusian, has a catchy and memorable chorus and a great place in the running order (fourteenth out of eighteen countries).
It’s likely that all former Soviet countries and the large Russian diaspora throughout Europe will vote for this, elevating it from what was generally thought as a “borderline qualifier” into an entry that will more than likely squeeze itself into the final.
Despite performing in the first semi final this year, Dihaj from Azerbaijan could make big waves in the grand final.
Combining votes from the former Soviet countries, as well as the Russian and Turkish diasporas in Europe (and those are big), things could work in Azerbaijan’s favour and make “Skeletons” climb toward the Gods.
Do you think any other countries could benefit from Russia’s withdrawal from Eurovision 2017? Let us know in the comments section below.