Stockholm 2016

Where do we stand for Stockholm?

Yesterday, the EBU had a meeting in Berlin to discuss all things EBU, including the Eurovision Song Contest. This Creative Forum was interesting, but it also took place on the last day for countries to apply for participation in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, albeit preliminary. With all this news flying around us, we ask ourselves the questions: Where do we stand now? How many countries have confirmed, who’s still in doubt and which flags won’t be there in Stockholm?
Who will definitely be there?
Obviously, we had quite the list of already confirmed countries before yesterday. These countries were:

Sweden, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

No big surprises in that bunch: All countries were pretty much expected to take part in Stockholm.
There are however a few uncertain ones in the bunch that we were all quite excited for to see if they’d be in. First up, the lost child of Eurovision and the least successful country of them all: Czech Republic. They confirmed a few weeks ago that they would indeed give it another go, despite never qualifying. After all, hope never dies for the Czechs. They have not yet announced a selection method.
Secondly, there’s Greece. The Greeks have ditched NERIT again and have brought back ERT. But, ERT have now confirmed participation in Stockholm. Despite the financial crisis, the Greeks have managed to find some funding to participate in Eurovision after all.
They kept it hidden for a while, but TVR has now confirmed that Romania will be there in Stockholm. The funding was approved last week and thus will Romania select their next entrant for Eurovision. Will they manage to get their first win ever in Stockholm? We’ll see in May!
Also FYR Macedonia will be there. Last time, the Balkan star that is Daniel Kajmakoski represented the nation. But thanks to some dodgy notes, he failed to qualify. Is Skopje Fest the way to go? Apparently not, as the broadcaster has decided to pick their entry through something else than Skopje Fest. They will however be there in Stockholm!
And then there’s a few that confirmed either yesterday or today. First up, we celebrated them weeks ago when Liam loved all things Ukrainian in Eurovision and now Ukraine have indeed confirmed for Stockholm. Just like Slovenia, who have confirmed to participate in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. It is assumed that EMA will make another return, but that’s not sure yet. Nothing is sure yet either for Georgia: They will be there in Stockholm, but how they’ll select their entry is yet to be revealed.
Who’s still in doubt?
Still in doubt are Bosnia and Herzegovina. They have for now put their name on the list of confirmed countries, but let’s not forget that they did the same in both 2014 and 2015. They put their name on the list, presumably because their budget is yet unknown. In the past two years, Eurovision turned out to be too much for their budget: They were forced to sit out due to their bank accounts. So for now, we can say a careful ‘Welcome back, Bosnia and Herzegovina’, but it remains to be seen how far we actually are in getting them back in Eurovision.
Also in and out is Turkey. EBU will be eager to get Turkey back into Eurovision, but they won’t give in to their initial demands and complaints about juries and the Big Five. The question also remains as to how far the demands by TRT still stand: A new general director has taken over the broadcaster and he is, apparently, more positive towards Eurovision. Still, we won’t believe Turkey’s participation until we see them on the final list…
Bulgaria have put their name on the list as well. If there’s one country who were disappointed their financial situation didn’t allow them to participate, it’s Bulgaria. Tonight, they said they were aiming to participate, but they’ll give the final call on 10th October. That’s presumably the day where we will see whether Bulgaria have managed to bring up the cash to get their delegation to Stockholm.
The biggest question mark on the list is Croatia. After withdrawing because of years of misery, they said they’d take a one year break to then come back with fresh energy. It however seems that HRT need a little more Red Bulls to get their energy back: 2015 was their second year of sitting out. Will they return in 2016? They said they were thinking about sending the winner of the Croatian The Voice, Nina Kraljić, to Eurovision. But Nina has now won a while ago and we still don’t know if HRT are actually on the list or what they’re doing…
Eurovision fans got quite excited when they heard that Slovakia‘s broadcaster refused to give a final ‘No’ to Eurovision 2016. From past experience, we however have learnt that Slovakia’s broadcaster normally discusses the plans for 2016 later in the year (say October…). That basically means that no one will have a clue on where Slovakia is standing for 2016. Do they have enough money in the bank to participate? Do they even want to come back? After all, together with their neighbours in the Czech Republic, they’ve never been too fortunate in the Eurovision Song Contest. A story to be continued…
Australia is the next where we put the big question mark. We all remember the rule EBU set up for their 60th Anniversary: Australia could participate one time only, unless they’d win, in which case they’d be allowed to defend their title in 2016. Well, Guy Sebastian didn’t win. So that’s that then, Australia is done and dusted. But alas, that’s not the case. Jon Ola Sand expressed himself by saying he liked Australia being there in Vienna. SBS have said they’d be rather excited to come back and then send an even bigger name than Guy Sebastian. SBS’s Paul Clarke was one of the most important speakers on yesterday’s meeting in Berlin. It makes you wonder: Did EBU like Australia’s involvement so much that they have decided to ask them to participate again? As Valentina Monetta would say: “Maybe!”
Who do we expect to be there?
There’s a good bunch of countries we don’t know anything about. San Marino, Armenia, Moldova, Serbia and Russia have not yet said anything about participation. However, we see no reasons why they would withdraw and fully expect them to be there.
Last week, we spoke to Nicola Caligiore, RAI’s Head of Delegation for Eurovision. He said that Italy had not yet taken a final decision on participation in Stockholm, but:

Most likely we will be there.

What else could we expect from the country that came third just this last Eurovision? Not a final yes, but we can’t see Italy pulling out. Can you?
A few others we expect without much doubt are Albania, Portugal and Montenegro. Albania is always a case where we spend ages waiting for the final call. The submissions for Festivali i Këngës were opened months ago already, but that doesn’t automatically mean that Albania intend to be there in Stockholm. Last year, Albania were close to the last country to confirm their participation. That’s why we expect Albania in Stockholm.
Portugal is a more complicated case. RTP always has a lot of financial issues (as do many broadcasters), their successes are limited and the country’s people are generally unhappy with the way Portugal pick their entry. Yes, famously, Cristiano Ronaldo’s sister has said she’d love to fly the flag for Portugal, but RTP have not yet responded to that. Will we see Portugal in Stockholm? Probably, but we’re not as sure as we were with Italy or Albania…
Finally, Montenegro is a rather complicated case. Their jury votes were disqualified from the 2015 final result and RTCG were not happy with that decision at all. Sabrija Vulić, the Head of Delegation, has expressed how angry the broadcaster were and said Montenegro’s future participation was in serious danger. How true that may be, fact is that Montenegro have qualified two years in a row with big names from their region. There’s enough reason for Montenegro to stay!
Who will not travel to Stockholm?
The expected bunch, basically. Luxembourg, Morocco, Monaco and Andorra: They will not be there during the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. There’s not much of a shock there, is there?
Also not participating is Liechtenstein. Not a big shocker either, but German Eurovision fan Thomas Mayer decided to contact 1FLTV to ask them about the possibilities for the future. Will they become an EBU member soon? 1FLTV replied by saying:

We definitely won’t debut next year.

We personally do not expect the three nations who have expressed interest either: China, Faroe Islands and Kosovo. None of these three are full EBU members or have a long enough tradition within the contest to be granted an invitational place, like Australia did. There’s a lot that needs to happen before any of these three will set foot on a Eurovision Song Contest stage.
All in all, we’ve got a lot to look forward to. Realistically counted, there are about 43, maybe 44 countries we could see participating in Stockholm. That’s a good amount, isn’t it? Let’s hope we see them all in Stockholm. We’ll keep you updated as soon as more confirmations come in!

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