Belgrade 2008

  53ยบ Eurovision Song Contest
 Believe (Dima Bilan) - Russia

The 53rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Belgrade, Serbia. A record 43 countries entered this edition and for the first time in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest two semi-finals were held to decide which 25 countries would be represented in the Final. Only 5 countries, the so called "big four" and Serbia, the previous year's winner, were automatically qualified for the final which took place on the 24th of May, just like the first ever Eurovision Song Contest in 1956.

The first semi-final was held on May 20th and the second on May 22nd. According to the score boards, which because of the new rules were only made public after the final was over, Greece had won the first semi-final while Ukraine had won the second one. According to these rules too, Sweden, which some considered among the favourites but had not actually qualified through tele-voting, was only rescued as the 10th qualifier for the second semi-final by the back-up juries votes. Poland was also rescued the same way in the first semi-final. This may well explain why both Sweden and Poland did so bad in the final.

Russia won the 53rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Believe sang in English by Dima Bilan who had already represented Russia in 2006. Bilan was second to Lordi's Hard Rock Hallelujah then. This year's victory was the first one for Russia, which also means that during the last 8 years each winning country did win for the first time, something that had never happened before but easy to understand given the enormous number of new countries entering the contest.

As in the previous years a strong localism was obvious in the voting. Russia got 12 points from the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Armenia and Belarus plus Israel (don't be mistaken here as the Russian community accounts for a sixth of Israel's population). Nobody else gave 12 points to Russia. Norway got 12 points only twice, guess from who, yes! the Swedish and the Finnish. Denmark got 12 points only from Norway while Iceland of course got 12 points only from Denmark. Andorra gave its 12 points to Spain that also got 10 points from Portugal. Spain, not surprisingly, gave its 12 points to Romania. Note that Romanian are the biggest foreign population in Spain (more than half million people, which would actually make it the 7th biggest city in Spain if they lived together) For the same reason, and as every year, Turkey got lots of points from Germany (10 exactly). Needless to say the Balkan countries supported each-other and so Serbia got 12 points from Montenegro, Slovenia and Bosnia&Herzegovina while the last one got 12 points from Serbia and Croatia.

As for the "big four", the United Kingdom, which entered a really good song this year, was once again last, and Germany only third to last. France and Spain with their more than controversial entries -Spain's specially- did actually much better than in previous years. Yet, Spain, the best placed out of the four, was only 16th.

See you in Moscu for the 54th Eurovision Song Contest in 2009