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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
MP demands Eurovision vote change
The UK's Scooch did not go down well with voters
The Eurovision Song Contest voting system needs to be changed because it is "harmful to the relationship between the peoples of Europe", an MP has said.

Countries voted for their neighbours rather than the best songs, Liberal Democrat MP Richard Younger-Ross said.

And the BBC should insist on voting changes or withdraw from covering the contest altogether, he added.

Serbia won Saturday's contest, while the UK was second from bottom, only receiving votes from Ireland and Malta.

Mr Younger-Ross said the present structure was a "joke", adding that votes were based "largely on narrow nationalistic grounds".

Richard Younger-Ross
Richard Younger-Ross said the voting system was a "joke"
He has tabled a Commons early day motion, which has been backed by fellow Liberal Democrat Colin Breed plus Labour MPs John Robertson and David Drew.

Derek Gatherer, who has spent years studying Eurovision voting patterns, thinks suggesting the current system is a joke is a bit "heavy".

However, he does agree that some countries do form "geographical regions".

He said: "Less than a third of the total votes for the winning entry were ones which seemed to have been influenced by block voting.

"It does make it rather harder for us to win, but it's not to suggest that all the votes are necessarily given out according to these local alliances," he added.

On Monday, Malta called for phone votes in certain countries to be scrapped until they can be monitored more closely.

Robert Abela, who headed Malta's contingent, said many results were "not based solely on the public vote".

He added "five or six" other countries during Saturday's contest were angered by block voting - where neighbours back each other regardless of the song.

"If the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) cannot 100% monitor how the system is being done in some of the ex-Soviet countries, I think they should do away with (phone voting)," he said.

He also confirmed that the 12 points Malta awarded to UK entry Scooch - more than half their final total - was a protest at the way so many countries vote for their neighbours.

Marija Serifovic (centre) and her backing singers
Marija Serifovic (centre) won for Serbia with her ballad Molitva
Criticism has also surfaced in Germany, where tabloid newspaper Bild questioned why Western European countries should pay the largest amount for a competition they seemed to have no chance of winning.

It quoted singer Nicole, Germany's sole Eurovision winner, as saying: "It is obvious that Eastern European countries engage in dirty trade with points every year.

"Germany should withdraw from the competition."

The EBU were unavailable for comment.

BBC DJ Paul Gambaccini told Radio 4's Today programme he thought about half of the voting was for political reasons.

He said: "Britain's votes plummeted with the invasion of Iraq and have stayed in the basement with the occupation.

"There has always been a political dimension to Eurovision, the love-fest between Greece and Cyprus has been noted for a long time.

"Now with the public voting instead of the panel voting it is really extensive."


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