The Eurovision Song Contest has long been accused of being “political”, mainly down to its now traditional voting patterns. However when it comes to the real world of politics what about those artists who competed in the Eurovision Song Contest and then use their Eurovision experience as a platform to enter the colorful world of politics.
Interestingly it appears that female artists have been more keen to move from pop star to political icon.
The 2012 Eurovision winner Loreen has been well noted for her views on human rights, and her well publicised meetings with political activists in Azerbaijan. In a tour of Belarus she met the wife of political prisoner Ales Bialiatske Viasna and also signed a petition to ban the death penalty, but Eurovision winners turning to politics is nothing new.
Some of the most famous Eurovision personalities to enter the world of politics include Dana, Ruslana and Marija Serifovic.
Dana, Irelands first winner of Eurovision in 1970, took All Kinds of Everything down a very narrower right winged Christian pathway in 1997 when she ran for the position of President of Ireland and polled exceptionally well with almost 14% and finished third on a strong Christian moralistic manifesto. Dana built off the success of the presidential campaign and in 1999 won a seat in the European Parliament, representing Ulster/Connect in the Republic of Ireland as an MEP. She subsequently lost her MEP seat and 2011 she stood as a candidate for a second time for Irish President but on this occasion failed miserably and seen her share of the vote slum to less than 3% .
Dana seemingly set a trend for female Eurovision winners as the 2004 winner Ruslana from the Ukraine actively supported the democratic processes in the country, known as the Orange Revolution, She declared her support for Viktor Yushchenko during the controversial elections being a prominent figure that addressed the mass crowds rallying in support of Yushchenko. Then from 2006 to 2007 she was a Member of the Ukrainian Parliament for the new political party Our Ukraine. Ruslana continued her interest in politics and endorsed Yulia Tymoshenko during the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election.
Next up was 2007 winner Marija Šerifović caused a major stir in 2007/08 by performing her winning hit song “Molitva” (Prayer) at an election rally for the Serbian Radical Party. To add fuel to the situation she endorsed the presidential candidacy of the party’s president Tomislav Nikolić adding that her song was “a prayer for a new, different and more honest Serbia”. Her decision to participate enraged fans and the EBU and worse resulted in the production of her follow up album being cancelled, which was meant to build of her Eurovision victory.
It wasn’t just winners of Eurovision who joined the political circus, Lia Vissi, who was a backing singer for Greece in 1979 then represented Cyprus in Eurovision in 1985 where she finished 16th or 19 songs also sought political office. After two failed attempts to represent Greece in Eurovision of 1991 and 1992 she turned her attention to the political arena and in 2006 Lia represented the Democratic Rally Party for a seat in the House of Representatives of Cyrpus but failed to get elected in the Laranaca District.
Israel has also given us some powerful political female singer/political representatives, Mira Awad who represented Israel in 2009 has cause most controversy. She was the first Arab to represent Israel at Eurovision, singing the first Israeli Eurovision song with Arabic lyrics and has been much applauded and criticised in her own country. During the 2009 national elections in Israel, ‘Awaḍ voiced support for the Israeli Communist party, Hadash. Even the colourful and dynamic Dana International got involved in Israeli politics in 2009 Dana campaigned for Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni in the legislative elections.
So it’s likely that Eurovision will always be political both in terms of the song contest and its voting but also as potential platform for launching a serious political career.