Eurovision: Time for Türkiye to be back on the game?


Eurovision: Time for Türkiye to be back on the game?

Loreen from Sweden, winner of 2023 edition / Sarah Louise Bennet _EBU

Last week on Saturday night, took place the Eurovision song contest. Loreen from Sweden has won for the second time. It was also the 10th year since TRT announced Türkiye would no longer participate. And yet, Turkish public used to love this contest and its flamboyant show. So why did Türkiye left the contest, and will it ever come back?

The Eurovision 

The European song contest is an annual song competition. It was first held in 1956 in the first years of the European construction after World War II. Originally participants were mere European countries, then new countries joined such as Australia, Israel or Azerbaijan. Türkiye first participated in 1975 and even won once in 2003 with Sertab Erener’s song « Everyway that I can ».

The rules are simple: each participating country submit an original 3-minutes song to be performed live. A jury composed of professionals grades each song, granting a certain number of points to each country. These points counts for 50% of the final score. At the same time, viewers in all the participating countries can cast a vote for the other countries’ song via telephone or the Internet. Thus each country will grant 1 to 12 points to the songs scoring the highest number of votes from its national voters.

An apolitical contest?

The Eurovision song contest is officially apolitical. But with 100 to 600 million viewers, it certainly became a cultural influence worldwide. The victory of Ukraine in 2022 had a deeply political meaning of solidarity among European countries. Socially, with its tradition of inclusiveness and the flamboyance of its shows, the contest has won a strong fan base in the LGBTQIA+ community. The winner of the 1999 edition, was Dana International, a trans woman. In 2014, the Drag Queen artist Conchita Wurst also won the contest. Along the year, many contestants and winners of the contest were openly gay.

As it happens, it is the main reason for Türkiye’s boycott of the Eurovision. TRT considers it morally improper to broadcast live, at a time where children might watch TV, a show where trans people, Drag Queens and gays joyfully participate. This conservative and prudish mindset is the reflection of a part of the population and of the current governing party. Yet an other part of the population would just like to enjoy watching the Eurovision song contest and be thrilled by its country’s contestant. Could the results of Sunday’s election lead to a come back of Türkiye to the Eurovision? The last time Loreen, the Swedish singer, had won the Eurovision was also the last time Türkiye took part to the contest. Now that Loreen won again, wouldn’t it be time for Türkiye to also be back on the game?

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