Ukraine’s culture minister and ambassador to Poland have both expressed regret that their country’s jury at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest awarded the Polish entry “nul points” despite the support shown by the Polish people and government since the Russian invasion.
Ukraine’s representative, Kalush, won the contest, after receiving a record score from the public vote, including a maximum 12 points from the public in Poland. The Polish entry, which for the first time in years had high hopes of victory, finished 12th among the 25 countries in Saturday’s final.
Although in theory Eurovision votes are cast according to the quality of the song, regional and ethnic proximity and diaspora votes have long been a factor. The current system, divided equally between points given by a professional jury and a public televote in each country, was introduced in 2016.
“I am proud of the Ukrainians and Poles who gave the highest number of points, 12, to each other’s performers at Eurovision [in the televote],” wrote Andrii Deshchytsia, Ukraine’s ambassador to Warsaw. “The voice of the people will always be more important than the verdict of a few bureaucrats who got into the Ukrainian jury.”
Jestem dumny z Ukraińców i Polaków, którzy nawzajem ocenili naszych wykonawców na Eurowizji 2022 najwyższą liczbą, 12 pkt.
Głos ludzi zawsze będzie ważniejszy niż ocena kilku biurokratów, którzy weszli do ukraińskiego jury Eurowizji. 🇺🇦🤝🇵🇱 #Eurovision2022 #Kalush #Ochman pic.twitter.com/xXVOmCwz17
— Andrii Deshchytsia (@ADeshchytsia) May 15, 2022
Oleksandr Tkachenko, the Ukrainian culture, felt similarly moved to share his views on social media, declaring the zero points given by his country’s jury to both Poland and Lithuania “a real shame” and tagging his counterparts in each country, Piotr Gliński and Simonas Kairys, for good measure.
“Your support is invaluable. Our gratitude and commitment to you is the same,” Tkachenko continued. “And although the competition is not political, it is not politics – it is friendship, it is common values, it is comprehensive support in all areas. And I hope that all this will last for many, many years further.”
“Dear Polish and Lithuanian people, we are eternally grateful to you, our victory is common: both at Eurovision and defeating the enemy,” he concluded.
Dear 🇵🇱 and 🇱🇹 people, to give your countries 0 points by the jury from Ukraine in #Eurovision it is a real shame.
You obtained 12 from Ukrainians! 🇺🇦
We are eternally grateful to you, our victory is common: both at Eurovision and defeating the enemy. @KairysSimonas @PiotrGlinski
— Tkachenko Oleksandr (@otkachenkoua) May 15, 2022
One of the members of the Ukrainian jury at this year’s Eurovision, Iryna Fedyshyn, was also unhappy with the overall result given by her colleagues.
“Despite the fact that Eurovision is still ‘like’ an apolitical contest, it is difficult to turn away when there is a war in your country and Poland lends a helping hand to you the most. When I saw such results, it was a shock for me as well,” Fedyshyn wrote.
“We are sincerely grateful to the Polish government and people for everything they do for us: provide shelter for women and children, donate incredibly much humanitarian aid, and support Ukraine in every way possible.”
Fedyshyn claimed that she had given Poland 10 points, the second highest number possible, and posted an image of her scorecard to prove it. However, some online commentators noted that judges were meant to rank entries, not give them points, and suggested she had misunderstood the system, reports Onet.
Poland’s entry at this year’s contest, “River”, was performed by Krystian Ochman, who was born in Massachusetts but moved to Poland to study music after graduating from high school and rose to fame after winning reality talent show “The Voice of Poland” in 2020.
The song’s qualification from Thursday’s semi-final raised hopes that it could be among the contenders for victory. Its 12th place is Poland’s best showing since Michał Szpak finished eighth in 2016.
Poland has never won the contest, with Edyta Górniak’s second place on the country’s debut in 1994 its best result to date. The country has enjoyed more success in the junior version of Eurovision, which it won in 2018 and 2019.
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To add to the controversy this year, Poland was one of six countries to have its jury votes removed during the contest by organiser the European Broadcasting Union after “irregular voting patterns” were identified following the dress rehearsal of one of the semi-finals.
A “substitute aggregated result” based on the results of other countries with similar voting records for each of the countries was therefore calculated for each of these juries, reports Eurovisionworld, a Eurovision news website.
Romania’s jury was removed halfway through the #Eurovision final, along with Azerbaijan, Georgia, Poland, San Marino and Montenegro.
The six countries were then assigned an aggregated result based on the votes of juries from comparable countries.https://t.co/6r3bz1eR85
— Sam Street (@samstreetwrites) May 16, 2022
Main image credit: Eurovision press materials