In May, after waiting nearly 50 years, Portugal finally nabbed its first win at Eurovision. It was, until Salvador Sobral’s victory, the nation that had been waiting the longest for a win. In fact, Portugal had never finished in the Top 5 before, and they had been eliminated in the semi-finals on their previous four attempts.
Portugal’s win has no doubt given other long-suffering nations hope that they too can see a reversal of their fortunes in the contest. So, in honour of all those who have tried and repeatedly failed, we take a look at the ten countries that have participated the most times without a win.
The sunny island of Cyprus has participated in Eurovision 34 times. Despite the inevitably high points that its artists receive from neighbour Greece, the country has never finished higher than fifth place. They achieved that in 1982 — in only their second year competing. And they matched the result two more times, in 1997 and in 2004 (with British-Cypriot singer Lisa Andreas). In your mind, should Cyprus have already won their first Eurovision trophy?
Heading west we find another island that’s been stranded from victory: Malta. The Maltese have been present at Eurovision for 30 years. After finishing last on their first two appearances, they slowly found their rhythm. In 2002 Ira Losco — who blew gold dust during her performance of “7th Wonder” — finished just twelve points behind the winner Marin N from Latvia. Three years later Chiara also finished as runner-up. Should one of these Eurovision queens have actually taken the contest to Malta?
Having neighbours can certainly help you win Eurovision. Sadly, the third country on the list is also our third island. Iceland, like Malta, has taken part for 30 years. They also finished as runner-up on two occasions. In 1999 pre-contest favourite Selma finished behind Sweden’s Charlotte Nielsen (now Perrelli). And ten years later Yohanna came second to Alexander Rybak — who nabbed the most 12 points in history en route to victory. From those highs Iceland now finds itself in the doldrums. It hasn’t made the final since 2014.
In 1989 Yugoslavia scored its only Eurovision win. Its participant — the rock band Riva — hailed from Croatia, which achieved independence in 1991. A year later, Yugoslavia hosted Eurovision in the Croatian capital of Zagreb. But as an independent country Croatia has never won the contest…despite its 23 attempts. The country finished fourth on two occasions — in 1996 with Maja Blagdan and three years later with Doris Dragovic. Nina Krajlic and Jacques Houdek have taken the country to the final two years running. Could they go even higher next year?
Croatia isn’t the only struggling ex-Yugoslav state to make the list. Another long-suffering country from the region is Slovenia, which like its neighbour Croatia has appeared at Eurovision 23 times. They have finished seventh twice — in 1995 when Darja Svajger sang “Prisluhni mi” and in 2001 when Nusa Derenda sang “Energy”. Their highest placing in recent years came in 2011 when Maja Keuc placed 13th. Sadly they haven’t made the final since 2015.
Poland debuted with a bang, placing second in 1994 with the lovely Edyta Gorniak. Her performance of “To nie ja” remains the country’s best-ever result. Unfortunately Poland failed to make the final from 2005 until 2007, and again from 2009 until 2011. But since their comeback in 2014 they have reached the final all four times and celebrated their 20th appearance at Eurovision in Kyiv this year. Who can finally get them a win?
7. Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina can be considered one of the more successful former Yugoslav republics, as they never missed out on a final until Eurovision 2016 in Stockholm. They came closest to winning in 2006 when they finished third with Hari Mata Hari. After 19 years of waving their flag at Eurovision they took a break in 2017. But rumour has it there is a comeback on the cards. If Bosnia and Herzegovina returns, can they pull a Ukraine 2016 or a Portugal 2017 and win after a one-year absence?
Of the ten countries on this list, only Romania has managed to make it to the final during every one of its appearances at Eurovision. Yes, in their eighteen appearances they have reached the final eighteen times. They finished third on two occasions — with Luminita Anghel in 2005 and Paula Seling & Ovi in 2010. Are you looking forward to attending Eurovision in Bucharest sometime soon?
Lithuania debuted in 1994 and finished last with nil points. So it’s no wonder they decided to sit the next four editions of the contest out. By the early 00s its neighbours were well and truly in the midst of a Baltic Golden Age, as Estonia won the contest in 2001 and Latvia took the crown a year later. In their eighteen appearances, Lithuania peaked at sixth place, which came in 2006 when LT United sang “We Are The Winners”.
10. FYR Macedonia
Of the ten countries that have competed the most times without winning, FYR Macedonia has definitely performed the worst. In its 17 appearances it has never finished in the top 10. In fact, they have only managed to qualify for the final once in their last ten appearances. That was down to Kaliopi, who placed 13th in 2012 (only to crash out of the semis when she returned in 2016).
These are the ten countries that have been waiting the longest for a win. But there are plenty of other countries — including Australia, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova — who have yet to clutch the trophy either. Of these winless nations, which are you cheering for the most? Who do you hope nabs the trophy soon and why? Let us know in the comments box below.