The Secrets of Selection

I must confess to having had to ‘lol’ a bit at the official Melodifestivalen website this week. The headline could have been written by me two years ago, where everything was about breaking new records (the record in question by the way was the number of entries submitted to their Webbjoker competition).

How to pick things the best way for any activity is always difficult. When it came to choosing how we should elect our government in the UK last year, I was a big supporter of the Alternative Vote. It’s a system I have used throughout my student days to cast a preference for voting, which I saw led to favourable results in many cases. But what I learnt throughout the bitter campaigning for both sides was just how rubbish all voting systems are. I absolutely heart democracy.

One person, one vote is the mechanism we have to use, our nature of equality as a right for all people dictates it. However there is no denying that where decisions are made more autocratically, such as a classroom, they do work more efficiently. And of course, if we were in charge of world, we would hope at least that our values of fairness and equality we would be able to lead to impart on others. Whether it works that way is a different question.

Selecting a Eurovision song for me is of course of equally important national interest. Is it best to do so in a democratic way? No – of course not. Eric Saade would have won MF here in Sweden last year singing the phone book. His song and performance were brilliant, hence the landslide victory, but were also largely irrelevant at that level. Are panels of ‘experts’ best? No. For we love democracy, and we bemoan times when we don’t have it. Plus, who says experts know what they are talking about (take a look at jury results in Eurovision to know exactly what I mean). And then, some countries do internal selections to make it more prestigious (Bosnia) and some do it as nobody would care enough otherwise (UK, France).

It is with this mindset I look at what Melodifestivalen has announced this week. What I love, is that they have decided to bring in ideas to curb any effect of democracy being dominated by popularity (separate semi finals for the webbjoker should help hugely). I love too the one phone, one vote, to ensure money is not a big limiting factor. However, I’m a believer in playing as you train. Allowing two extra people on stage and not requiring live backing vocals make it a minorly better show for a major headache in the Eurovision itself. But what is perfect? You know what. The best song. How to find it is a mystery…

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