Today the eyes of the world will be on the United States of America as the country goes to the polls to elect a new president. After one of the most controversial and bitter campaigns in living memory, it comes down to a choice of just two; Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. On this momentous day we take a look at some of the Eurovision stars who haven't exactly shied away from the world of politics.
The US Presidential Election shares similarities with the Eurovision Song Contest. The candidates tend to be highly polished individuals, ready to shine on stage, and as with the Eurovision Song Contest, their fate lies in the hands of the public. On the other hand, the Eurovision Song Contest is first and foremost a television show, which is why the rules of the competition forbid lyrics, speeches and gestures of a political nature. When it comes to the performers themselves, the story is a little different.
Recent winners of the Eurovision Song Contest, Conchita Wurst and Loreen, have also dabbled in politics from time to time. When Conchita won the 2014 competition she dedicated her victory "to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom". Shortly after the Eurovision Song Contest Conchita performed at an anti-discrimination event at the European Parliament in Brussels and went on to meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Loreen, who won for Sweden in 2012, is a vocal supporter and advocate of human rights and continues to be a political activist today.
Ukraine's 2004 winner, Ruslana, became a prominent figure during the Orange Revolution and between 2006 and 2007 she was a member of parliament for the Our Ukraine party. She hit the spotlight once again in 2013 when she became one of the leading figures in the pro-EU demonstrations which took place in Ukraine, which came to be known internationally as Euromaidan. The protests escalated into a full-scale revolution which saw the incumbent president, Viktor Yanukovych, removed from power following widespread civil unrest.
Dana: From domestic to international
Ireland's very first winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, Dana, entered politics in 1997 when she ran as a candidate in the Irish presidential election. Whilst she was not successful, she was later elected as a Member of the European Parliament. She ran for president again in 2011, standing as an independent candidate but finished sixth to Michael D Higgins. Following Ireland's record seventh win in 1996, RTE publicly stated that hosting the Eurovision Song Contest for the fourth time in five years was a challenge. Michael D Higgins, who was a Ireland's Minister of Culture at the time, was vocal in his support of the Eurovision Song Contest as a vehicle for cultural dialogue. He argued that hosting the 1997 contest was also an issue of national pride.
Dana International won the Eurovision Song Contest for Israel in 1998 and became a symbol of diversity and tolerance and has appeared at political rallies in Israel. Yizar Cohen, who won the competition in 1978 said that he was proud of Dana International's participation. "I am very proud that this kind of artist represented Israel, it was like a symbol of freedom". Her victory drew inevitable comparisons with the 1970 winner. Ireland's Dana joked in a television interview that she was outraged when she saw Dana International; "I was furious... her legs were so much better than mine".
All eyes on the US tonight
The voting is the most tense part of the Eurovision Song Contest and that is obviously true of any election as well. Waiting for the results to come in will be nerve-racking for both Clinton and Trump. Given the importance of the US in global politics, it'll also be an election which will be watched by the world.
Like the Eurovision Song Contest, television coverage of the voting has grown increasingly sophisticated over the years. It looks like it will be a tight race to the finish, and just like the Eurovision Song Contest, when it comes to voting, anything can happen!