Eurovision: Naga Munchetty questions fairness of contest
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Eurovision kicks off tomorrow night as the UK seeks to end its winless run at the iconic song contest in Turin, Italy. Flying the Union Jack is TikTok star Sam Ryder, who is hoping his song SPACEMAN can wow Europe. The singer and guitarist is tipped as the second favourite to win the competition behind Ukraine’s entry Kalush Orchestra. Should either act receive the most votes in the Final, they will likely receive a warm welcome from their home country.
One Eurovision act who is less likely to receive the overwhelming support of their nation is Spain’s entry Chanel Terrero.
The singer, dancer and actress, who is performing her reggaeton-influenced song ‘SlowMo’, was caught in a major controversy earlier this year.
The artist, who was born in 1991, in Havana, Cuba, found herself at the centre of an alleged vote bias scandal over her selection for Eurovision.
In late January, Chanel was selected as Spain’s Eurovision entry after she performed at Benidorm Fest, the annual song contest held by Spain’s state-owned broadcaster RTVE to determine who represents it at the song contest.
The singer emerged victorious over two of the favourites Tanxugueiras and Rigoberta Bandini.
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Tanxugueiras had been praised for singing in their native Galician, a language from the northwestern Spanish region.
Bandini, who performed her song ‘Ay Mamá’, dubbed ‘an ode to the breast’, was also popular.
Questions were immediately raised, however, over how the jury that chose Spain’s entry had been selected and the way in which they issued their scores.
Antón Gómez Reino, the spokesman for the Galician branch of the left-wing Podemos party, called for “total transparency” from RTVE.
He said: “We believe that it is the duty of a public body to attend to the complaints of the public who do not feel represented by this decision.
“The popular vote must really count.”
The morning after Chanel was selected, Spanish broadsheet newspaper El Mundo ran an editorial with the headline: “Chanel at Eurovision — what a mistake. What a huge mistake.”
Allegations of vote bias began to mount over Chanel’s selection, including from the Galician Nationalist Bloc.
Néstor Rego, a spokesman for the political alliance said: “A public entity that we all pay must guarantee transparency and fair criteria in processes like this one.
“There are many Galicians who have the legitimate perception that they acted with bias to prevent a song in Galician from going to Eurovision.”
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The representation for the RTVE workers union issued an even stronger claim.
A spokesperson said: “The irregularities are so important, so notable that the choice of the song that will represent Spain should be annulled.”
The group referred to the links between Chanel and members of the jury.
One member was a producer who had worked with the singer, while another had previously worked with the song’s co-writer.
The row then went even further as Podemos and the conservative opposition People’s Party submitted questions to the Senate about Chanel’s selection.
RTVE later revealed the breakdown of the popular vote for Spain’s Eurovision hopefuls, which was weighted less than the decisions of the jury.
Chanel only received four percent of the public vote, compared to Tanxugueiras who received 70 percent.
Despite the controversy over Spain’s selection, Tanxugueiras were supportive of Chanel and her performance.
In a post on Twitter, they said: “We’ll hold you by the arms sister — just like we did in our performance. You’re going to smash it.”
Chanel also addressed her Eurovision hopes and some of the backlash over her selection in a statement to Mejor Contigo.
She said: “Art is subjective, everyone has an opinion and it’s totally comprehensible and respectable.
“What we cannot accept as a society is to lynch someone for their taste.”
RTVE also called for “respect” for the work of the jury, claiming that their votes were fair.
María Eizaguirre, Head of Communication of RTVE, told reporters that jury members “have their likes and opinions” and “are a professional” jury.
She added: “They did not know what the person next door was voting for, nor did they agree with each other.”
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