In case anyone has been absent from the Euroverse in the last couple of days, there is DRAMA going on. Yes, with capitals, big, loud, nasty DRAMA. Spain chose the entry that will represent them in Kyiv last Saturday, and since then endless accusations, insults and physical attacks have flown from all over the place.
The situation. Every single Spanish fan had proceeded under the assumption, for the last couple of weeks, that the contest would be between LeKlein, who had classified to the final stage of the competition after an online casting and a live casting, and Mirela, Spanish fans sweetheart with two (at that point) failed attempts to represent Spain in the big European stage. #TodosconMirela and #TodosconLeKlein feelings were in full swing when the rules of the final were announced. The controversial one was that in the event of a tie it would be the jury, not the televote (as is traditional in Eurovision circles, and even in Spain, where Ruth Lorenzo, winner of the televote, defeated Brequette, winner of the jury vote, in 2014) that would have the casting vote. In a moment that shocked no one, the voting actually ended in a tie. Not between LeKlein and Mirela, though, but between Manel Navarro and Mirela. And this is where the situation gets complicated.
Manel Navarro has strong ties to Los40, one of the main radio stations in Spain and, in particular, to Xavi Martínez, who would go on to be announced as one of the juries for the final. Days before the show had even a firm date, Martínez had made public his support for Manel Navarro, stating that “Manel Navarro, whom we like a lot, will be on that show and we will support him so that it is him who represents us in Eurovision. I would be particularly happy”. He also revealed that he had dinner with the artist, and an Instagram pic of both was uploaded to Martínez’s Instagram account.
From there, the situation unravelled. Martínez gave Mirela his lowest score and Manel Navarro his highest and, when the vote turned out to be tied, he decided in favour of Manel. The jury as a whole, in the end, decided that Manel should be the winner. This was certainly not well received by the audience in the studio, who immediately began to boo the artist. In turn, the artist reacted with an infamous “corte the mangas”, sort of the Spanish equivalent of an “up yours” gesture. And then the fury of the Spanish eurofans was unleashed. The news announcing the result on facebook had many more anger reactions than likes. A number of petitions were drawn up within minutes to request another vote, to disqualify Navarro, to send Mirela… you name it. But the situation wouldn’t end there. Allegedly, Xavi Martínez was also physically attacked by a member of one of the other artists’ team. And news emerging today have revealed that a member of the Spanish Socialist Party has raised the issue in Congress, where congressman José Miguel Camacho has submitted a number of questions to RTVE, including
- Who approved the voting system?
- Who was in charge of electing the members of the jury?
- What is RTVE’s president’s opinion of the facts occurred during the show?
- Who was in charge of selecting the artists that took place in the second phase of the show (entries internally selected to compete against the winner of the public phase of the contest, LeKlein)?
- What criteria were used to select the artists that took place in the second phase of the show?
- Whether RTVE has contemplated annulling the results in light of what happened during the televised show?
Adding kindling to the fire, now Mirela’s team is said to be contemplating legal actions. Tomás Limeres, Mirela’s manager has stated that they have no choice but to accept the result, but that they are contemplating taking other actions. When challenged whether he meant legal actions, he replied “we don’t rule out any possibilities”.
So, in a convoluted nutshell, this is what happened and where we are (but you can watch the events unfold in the video at the end). I can’t recall any other national final where so much vitriol has been gushed. Before, during and after. It’s almost as if there is an innate unhinged-ness to Spanish fans that make every piece of news a let’s-grab-our-popcorn-and-watch thing. From the elimination of Brequette, whose presence in Kyiv seemed a forgone conclusion for many the second she was announced, to the result of the Eurocasting, to the events on Saturday, there seems to be a constant need to overdramatise everything, eventually ending in shameful events like last Saturday. Not so much because of the booing, which I believe to be a legitimate expression of the audience’s discontent. But even for booing there should be a bare minimum of class. And then there is the artist’s reaction, which is poor to say the least. Even at a young age, an artist needs to always remember that it is the public that makes them and be respectful even in light of events like last Saturday’s.
But the biggest call of shame for me goes to RTVE. The level of contempt that the public entity seems to have taken towards Eurovision seems to be spiralling out of control. Someone at RTVE needs to start thinking seriously whether Eurovision is a project that they want to continue to undertake, and what is the approach that the country wants to have towards it. But as it stands today, with a showcase like Objetivo Eurovision where the contest is reduced to a circus, someone should be held accountable. In any other job, such level of incompetence would result in dismissal. It does seem, however, that shame is not a word commonly known to the broadcaster. And I doubt anyone would as much as lose sleep over this.
And then we have the allegations that the result was arranged from the beginning. And that, as such, the entire selection process was nothing but a disguise to an internal election. We will probably never know if there is any truth in these allegations, but if such were the case it would add to RTVE’s shame. Not only for deceiving artists into thinking that they stood a chance but, much worse, for taking money from the audience in a televote process that they knew would have no impact whatsoever. Signs are all over the place. Choosing a personal friend of one of the artists as a member of the jury. Changing the rules to have the jury break the tie (when there was precedent to the contrary). Secrecy over how certain songs were left out of the process. A lot happening behind closed doors. RTVE certainly doesn’t have the obligation to explain themselves. But, as things stand at the moment, if they were to try and recover any credibility, and if they have any hope that artists (particularly more established acts) will as much as even come close to considering participating in the future, it wouldn’t hurt if they did. Otherwise, the pack of wolves won’t stop howling. And it would be the first time in ages that the #TodosCon may become a #TodosContra.