Monday 26 May 2008

Eurovision - a flawed democracy

So, the Russians won. And we've had the usual complaints:
SIR Terry Wogan, the veteran Eurovision commentator, has cast doubt on whether he would be involved in covering the event again.

He said it was "no longer a music contest" and that prospects for western European participants were "poor".

One of the Scotsman's commenters had the same idea as myself:
The obvious solution to the political voting problem, by the way, is for the BBC to allow Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland to enter the contest separately - it would be the right thing to do on its own merits, but it would also set up a new British Isles voting bloc to rival that of the Balkans, the Baltic, Scandinavia and the ex-USSR.
I'd go further: let's give the vote to the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey etc., not to mention the Free State of Berwick upon Tweed. Then one of our lot would win every year.

On a more serious note (no pun intended!) this whole charade demonstrates some of the problems inherent in democracy itself. It does seem rather unfair that Iceland has the same voting power as Russia in the Eurovision contest. That could be fixed easily enough. Nevertheless, there's still going to be one winning country.

Similarly in a political democracy the winner takes all, no matter how "proportional" the voting system may be. You get Brown or Cameron; Salmond or Alexander; McCain or Obama/Clinton.

How different from the marketplace. When I go into my local pub no vote is held on what we drink, with the winner then being the only available product. No, we all "vote" with our money and the outcome is a huge selection and we all get what we want as individuals. That's why the state should do as little as possible (or nothing at all), letting the market handle almost everything.

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

"In fact government is often criticised by "the right" for being too keen on the "every gets a prize" sort of competition." 
Oh come on Neil: you're better than that. 
There is a massive stonking difference. When Govts hand out stuff on the basis that "all must have prizes", no-one gets anything they actually value, because everyone gets the same thing and everyone knows it is worthless - the prize has not actually been "won". 
Nothing has been done to justify the prize and it therefore holds no value.

5 June 2008, 10:00:19 GMT+01:00
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Neil Craig
The comparison between competitions & the "winning" beer doesn't quite work. In fact government is often criticised by "the right" for being too keen on the "every gets a prize" sort of competition. 
If the ex-Yugoslavs get an unfair advantage from being several countries does this mean that the EU/NATO support for destroying the country was actually a cunning plan to make them win Eurovision? How unfair.

3 June 2008, 15:28:51 GMT+01:00
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Mark R
There are some much more important points that can be made about Eurovision, but generally are not. 
This organisation is often confused with the EU, but actually has nothing to do with it, except it is very similar! 
1. It is headquartered in Switzerland, with very high salries/benefits. Its web site is deliberately obscurist. 
2. Its budget is paid for by a small number of National Broadcasters. The BBC is by far the largest contributor - i.e. you and me, and surprise, surprise, who do you think get some of these nice Swiss jobs? Most of these countries who "win" the Song Contest actually pay nothing at all towards Eurovision, they are free riders. 
3. The reason for its existence is long gone. It was set up in the 1950s in order to set technical standards for televising international events, and the Song contest was primarily designed as a transnational broadcast under Eurovision control for testing purposes. 
4. If there is any market demand for such a programme as the Song Contest today then there is nothing to stop commercial stations setting one up. EUEFA for example find no difficulty organising their footballing events in collaberation with broadcasters across Europe. 
So in summary its just a cosy club we are all forced to pay for, producing something we don't want. Make fun of it if you like, but I think its disgraceful they can go on getting away with it. They have conned you, you are aguing about the voting system and seemingly accepting the existence of the event as "given". Just like the EU?

29 May 2008, 14:33:44 GMT+01:00
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"That's why the state should do as little as possible (or nothing at all), letting the market handle almost everything". 
I think the Austrian School call it Anarcho-capitalism. As far as I can see it is the ideal system of government. We cannot reliably expect it for at least a thousand years, if humanity survives that long.

27 May 2008, 18:45:15 GMT+01:00