Russia's Eurovision secret is out: voters backed Conchita

Austrian Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst

Judges in Russia, Armenia and Belarus marked her down - but it turns out the public are more tolerant

BY David Cairns LAST UPDATED AT 08:10 ON Mon 12 May 2014

IN A SLINKY dress, heavy eye make-up and a luxuriant black beard, Austrian diva Conchita Wurst claimed the Eurovision trophy on Saturday night. The singer, real name Tom Neuwirth, dedicated her win to “peace and freedom” after facing abuse and official disapproval over recent months.

Wurst was always a favourite to win. What’s more unexpected is that the citizens of Russia, Armenia and Belarus - three nations which the BBC said all objected to Wurst’s ambiguous presence in the song competition - used their telephone votes to send a message of tolerance.

Ahead of the competition, The Independent reported a petition of 15,000 Russians demanding their state TV broadcaster drop the “hotbed of sodomy” from its schedule because of Wurst’s participation. Armenia’s contestant, Aram MP3, said Wurst’s lifestyle was “not natural” and she should “decide whether she is a woman or a man” (he later said it had been “a joke”).

The Guardian reported that the Russian politician who inspired the country’s repressive anti-gay laws, Vitaly Milonov, wrote to Russia’s Eurovision committee asking it to boycott the event because it was a “Sodom show” and a “Europe-wide gay parade”.

In short, Wurst faced a “transphobic backlash” from “conservative protesters in Russia, Armenia and Belarus” as the BBC put it.

On Saturday night, the scoring seemed to support this. Armenia and Belarus gave Conchita's torch song ‘nul points’ - while Russia allowed her a grudging five (12 is the maximum). So far, so predictable. 

But much more interesting is how the public of those three nations voted.

As well as its own panel of five expert judges, each of the 37 participating nations runs a public telephone vote - the two results are then averaged. This year, for the first time, a breakdown of how the public and the judges voted has been released.

The figures show the Armenian public decided Wurst was their second favourite contestant out of the 25, while Russians ranked her third - and Belarus gave her a respectable fourth place. It was only after the carefully chosen judging panels had their say that Wurst’s ranking plummeted in all three nations.

So does Conchita Wurst’s win mark a backlash to the backlash, showing that the regime voices raised against her were out of step with a tolerant majority?

Possibly - but, of course, Eurovision watchers are a specialised bunch, who may well be predisposed to like Wurst. As Wurst herself said about about the controversy: “Eighty per cent of the autograph requests that I get are from Russia and eastern Europe.”

While the contest as a whole remains ineluctably silly, Wurst has become a serious figure of hope for at least some people living under the shadow of officially-sanctioned intolerance. · 

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I have made some small re-edits

IN A SLINKY dress, heavy eye make-up
and a luxuriant black beard, Austrian diva Conchita Wurst claimed the
Eurovision trophy on Saturday night. The singer, real name Tom Neuwirth,
dedicated her win to “peace and freedom” after facing support and official approval
over the majority of Europe recent months.

Wurst was always a favourite to win,
and would have won with both the public and the antiquated “jury” system What’s
more unexpected is that when the citizens of Ireland and the Subjects of Britain’s
used their telephone votes to send a message of tolerance to their indigenous Polish
population it was quickly overturned by the politically correct elite of the
state owned broadcasters

As well as its own panel of five expert
judges, each of the 37 participating nations runs a public telephone vote - the
two results are then averaged. This year, for the first time, a breakdown of
how the public and the judges voted has been released.

The figures show the public decided the
Poland was there favourite choice; it was only after the ‘carefully’ chosen
judging panels had their say that Donatan & Cleo’s ranking plummeted in all
three nations. Write a Judge on the UK had stated that it had “obvious male
appeal” but unlike a bearded man dressed as a woman it “stuck out for the wrong
reasons”.

So does Donatan & Cleo’s win in
Ireland and Britain mark a backlash to the politically correct, showing that
the regime voices raised against her were out of step with a tolerant majority?

Possibly - but, of course, Eurovision Juries
are a specialised bunch, who may well be predisposed to like Wurst, however
that is no excuse for the blatant ignoring of the public’s will.

While the contest as a whole remains ineluctably silly, Wurst has become
a serious figure for officially-sanctioned tolerance and Donatan & Cleo an
example of officially endorsed intolerance.

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