On Sunday evening Ester Peony won Selecția Națională to become Romania’s representative for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2019. Her song “On a Sunday” has a sultry, standout quality that came with a stunning graphic display. Sitting down or standing up, Ester definitely turned heads — particularly those of the international jury. Ester won with 65 points — 5 points more than televote favourite Laura Bretan, one of the country’s most famous singers who came second overall. Ester, a relative unknown in the country, only earned three points from the televote.
Criticism came thick and fast. Some questioned the fact the jury accounted for 6/7 of the final result. Some went as far as to stay the contest was rigged.
A few hours after the Romanian selection, Eurovision veteran and Selectia Nationala stalwart M I H A I posted a statement on his Facebook page rushing to defend Ester’s victory. He said that his countrymen’s attitude toward their representatives has been nothing but a shame over the last few years. Back in 2006, when he went to the song contest, fans called him “terrible”.
“Did Romania ever send a representative to Eurovision without trampling their soul first? The day after we won, the newspapers were like ‘We’re going out last’ or ‘Terrible! Romania won’t qualify again’. After Eurovision, I came back with a record score for Romania. There were red carpet invitations everywhere.”
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The Romanian singer suggests the prevailing attitude among journalists is to report bad news after a selection. He says there was no support until the Eurovision Song Contest itself. “That’s what happens to a Eurovision artist”.
Mihai also stated that he expected Ester to win and he is glad she did. “Her song was too good not to win”. He points out that the international jury decided right and that there was no corrupt actions among the other Romanian acts to manipulate the overall vote.
Back in January, Mihai withdrew from Selecția Națională as he was unhappy with the way the selection was organized. “I do not trust the objectivity of the Eurovision Romania organisers, regarding the unclear situation about the competitors — those who qualified through the pre-selection and those who were later favoured — I decided to withdraw.”
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