AS political issues go, the matter of who represents Spain in this Eurovision competition hardly seemed likely to spark a furore amongst all but the most die-hard Europop fans.
Yet this year’s candidate has caused widespread national outrage and achieved the rare success of uniting political parties on both the left and right in calls for a revote.
Chanel Terrero, 31, was selected as Spain’s Eurovision entry last week in the culmination of a competition known as Benidorm Fest on state broadcaster RTVE.
The performance by the Cuban-Catalan dancer turned singer bears all the typical hallmarks of a Eurovision entry with a hip swishing rhythm and catchy chorus. She gyrated across the stage in a sheer black and white sparkly version of a Wonder Woman costume crossed with a matador’s suit of lights. accompanied by male dancers who had forgotten to wear dress shirts beneath their tuxedos.
Clearly the favourite by the programme’s judging panel, scoring 51 points, she earned her place as Spain’s 2022 representative when Eurovision is held in May in Turin
However, when it emerged that Chanel had only scored 3.9% of the public vote, which went overwhelmingly to Galician female trio Tanxugueiras, who sang in their native Gallego, all hell broke loose.
It emerged that two of the panel had links to Chanel, including a producer who had worked with Chanel and another who had collaborated with the song’s co-author.
The issue of vote rigging was raised last week in Spain’s parliament uniting far left party Podemos with the conservative PP over calls for an investigation.
RTVE was forced to defend the vote insisting that it had been transparent with the jury choice accounting for 50% of the final count.
“The rules were clear, there are no two realities, there are no complaints, there are no challenges’” insisted RTVE’s director of communication Maria Eizaguirre on February 2.
Spain was keen to break its dismal record in the Eurovision song contest, having won only twice in six decades – both times in the 1960s.
Spain’s 1968 entry Massiel famously beat English crooner Cliff Richard and his classic “Congratulations” with her somewhat repetitive “La, La, La”.
The Spanish star won glory when the competition was held in London’s Royal Albert Hall but it later emerged the competition was rigged by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.
In a bid to improve the image of Spain, the Franco regime reportedly had the competition fixed to improve Spain’s image abroad, buying television programmes from European neighbours in exchange for ‘douze points’ on the night of Eurovision.
And now Spain’s entry is mired in controversy before the event has even begun.