This years’ Eurovision song contest will have a refugee crisis theme organisers have announced, with entertainment during the event being used to convey a pro-migrant message.
It started out as a friendly song competition in the 1950s and launched the careers of pop acts including Abba and Bucks Fizz in the 70s and 80s. But the inclusion of former Soviet nations such as Serbia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine in the early 2000s led to accusations of politicisation, as nations voted for their neighbours and against old enemies.
Now that politicisation is set to go much further, with the inclusion of a social justice message to convey the plight of refugees woven into the entertainment.
Announcing 2016 contest, which is being hosted by Sweden, last year’s winner Måns Zelmerlöw confirmed that the event will have a “Come Together” theme focusing on the so-called “refugee crisis,” the Independent has reported.
“It is more necessary than ever before that we unite and join together, and that is literally what we do in Eurovision, where most of the countries in Europe meet together,” he said. “We obviously want to touch upon it: anything else would be to bury your head in the sand.”
He conveyed his disappointment that the show was being hosted against a backdrop of closed borders and migrant quotas, adding: “We have shut the borders now, so I don’t know if there’s that much to be proud about.”
His co-presenter Petra Mede said the pair had agreed they could not ignore the crisis. “Everyone knows that it is a very tough situation in Europe right now,” she said.
“We already know now that there’s going to be a dance number where this will be expressed with dancers. We want to give a picture of what’s going on, but there will also be a feeling of hope.”
And Eurovision’s content producer Sven Stojanovic said of a dance routine scheduled to go ahead while votes are being counted: “We want to make people think, and be left with something to reflect upon after seeing the performance.”
“We are paying attention to the situation and that’s something we are proud of.”
Last year 163,000 asylum claimants arrived in Sweden, which has a local population of just 9.5 million. The government expects to deport 60-80,000, but many more are expected to bring their families to join them, taking total immigration up to 200,000.
Earlier this year a Stockholm University professor calculated that the 2015 intake of migrants alone will cost the state 583 billion Kroner – about £50.3 billion. The figure is roughly 14 times the country’s defence budget.
Meanwhile the country’s Aftonbladet newspaper has found that “Almost every Swedish woman feels very or somewhat unsafe when they exercise alone in the dark.” A further 43 percent felt insecure walking within Swedish cities on their own in the daytime.
Although the paper doesn’t make any suggestions as to what is driving the women’s fears, Sweden has been called the “rape capital of the West.”