This afternoon the 37 semi-finalists who have registered to participate in Eurovision 2012 were placed into one of two qualifying heats. You can see the details here. Each country has also been placed into the first half or the second half of each semi, though the full running order will only be finalised at a further draw in mid-March.
There are 43 countries that have registered to take part in total. Six entrants automatically qualify for the final (France, Spain, Germany, UK, Italy and Azerbaijan), but get to vote in one of the semis – which one was also decided today.
For those such as myself, who like to get heavily involved in the qualification market from the semis, this is an important moment. Some countries get drawn with plenty of allies, others are less lucky. Last year the draw threw punters a curveball by putting all the big hitters together in the first semi, and doing a great job of separating countries from many of their friends. Hence the failure of both Turkey and Armenia to qualify.
Here are five quick initial thoughts from today’s allocation:
1. Armenia have officially said they will take part, despite an ongoing territorial dispute with hosts Azerbaijan. However, there is a precedent for a country in the provisional list eventually not taking part for political reasons – in 2009 the Georgian entry did not make it to Moscow. So it remains to be seen if an Armenian song will make it to Baku. In the circumstances, it is lucky that Armenia was drawn in the heat with 19 entrants rather than the one with 18 entrants, as any withdrawal will mean there are an equal amount of countries in each semi.
2. Including Armenia, there are the same amount of entries as last year but one change in the line-up: Poland have withdrawn and Montenegro have returned. Although it seems on the face of it that Montenegro have been unfortunate to land in the semi with fewer of their immediate Balkan neighbours, whereas semi 2 has five ex-yugo countries.
3. Turkey managed to to be drawn with only three of its 13 best allies last year, but this year has been significantly kinder. Turkey should have a solid shout at getting out of the second semi with support from Germany, the UK, France, Georgia, FYR Macedonia, The Netherlands, Bulgaria and Bosnia in particular.
4. In the comments to the last post, Justin drew attention to how the diaspora vote played out in Italy on its return to the contest last year, with Romania and Moldova among the main beneficiaries. Both of those countries will be happy to have been drawn together, and in the semi on which Italy is voting.
5. Jedward are hoping to represent Ireland this year, being one of five acts who will take part in a national final. The boys did notably better among western European voters than eastern European ones last year. Irish eyes will not be smiling, however, at having been drawn in semi 1 when the UK is voting in semi 2.
Are there any point or queries you’d like to make about today’s draw? Do let us know in the comments section below.