If we look at the calendar based on the visual denomination of the years, the gap between the 2014 and 2015 editions of the ESC represent the middle gap of the decade. It is thus time to make a point.
I am going to focus in this article on the facts and figures that have changed now the 2014 edition of the song contest has passed, in comparison to other periods but for the same amount of times to bring some interesting points or pieces of facts to light.
To begin with, the participation of 26 countries in the final –that I tend to disagree about, and have been disagreeing for a while – seems to have become the norm lately, after Italy returned, 3 years ago. The question of the big 5 has been raised once again this year, but isn’t likely to be reconsidered. 2014 was the 4th year in the history of the contest, to hold 26 contestants final and the 3rd in the 2010’s decade, making this configuration the dominating one now.
So, from 2010 to 2014, we’ve had a pattern going like this: 25, 25,26,26,26. Since these numbers tend to represent overwhelming majority of the countries yearly giving a go to the song contest (70, 27%) in 2014, it is thus blatant that the chance for a given country to find itself in the final has never been so high, since the semi final system was launched in 2004.
No less than 44 countries has had at least one entry in the ESC between 2010 and 2014 and among them, an impressive 40 made it to the final at least once, in this same period of time.
Considering that 10 countries that have taken part at least once in the past 5 years, haven’t in the same range of years a decade ago (2000-2014), one could naturally think that the presence of a given country in that period of time certainly was much more granted than it may seem today. The thing is that facts show us it wasn’t. Even though in our “eurovision-psyche” we would perceive the pre-semi finals era as a more concentrated one with the same old bunch of 24, 23, or 26 countries taking the stage every year, it is interesting to note that only 5 countries (obviously apart from the then “Big 4” have taken that stage every single time from Stockholm (2000) through to Istanbul (2004): Sweden, Russia, Malta, Croatia, Turkey.
Back to our decade, interestingly enough in a time where the Big 4 has turned to Big 5, we can notice the presence of a “Little 4”, since, as specified earlier, over the past 5 years 4 countries out of 44 never made it to the final although taking part at least once. This fact would have had a bigger impact if every single of these countries had taken part every single of the past 5 years, but they haven’t. Now, the presence of a country that has appeared in every single contest for the first 5 years of the last decade among those 4 seems to make up for that; it’s Croatia. I guess we can say that’s how the Balkan country’s difficulty to keep its standard really takes an important dimension. The three other countries are Latvia (who have somehow been very successful too in their first years), Slovakia, and Bulgaria.
Is hope completely lost for them ?
One thing is sure, with the shipwreck of Moldova and Ireland this year, and the qualification of San Marino and Montenegro for the first time, Denmark, Iceland, Russia, Greece, Romania, Ukraine and Azerbaijan find themselves in a tightening noose for maintenance of a secured spot in the finals through to the end of the decade.