At time of publication, Nemo‘s “The Code”, Switzerland’s entry to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, sits at the top of the betting odds. The contest’s inaugural winner in 1956, Switzerland’s only other victory came in 1988, 36 years ago. Coming off of two contests in a row won by powerhouse countries that had won less than a decade before (Sweden and Ukraine), a Swiss victory would be a nice shake up of the status quo. But how would that 36 year gap between Eurovision victories stack up against other victors in the history of the contest? Have any other contest stalwarts gone even longer between championship seasons? And does the passage of time tell the whole story? Let’s find out.

(In calculating these stats, it’s necessary to consider the number of times a country has actually participated in Eurovision in between wins. A country’s gap between victories may seem larger than it actually IS in cases where that country sat out for an extended period of time. For example: Italy may have waited 31 years between its wins in 1990 and 2021, but the country only participated 13¹ times in the interim. (Impressively, Italy placed in the Top 5 of the Grand Final six times during that span, or at a rate of over 46% of the time.) By contrast, Switzerland has competed at Eurovision 30 times over the 36 years since Celine Dion’s triumphant, star-making victory in 1988, placing in the Top 5 of the Grand Final four times, or at a rate of around 13%. So, in the interest of gaining a fuller picture, we will be measuring contest participations between victories, rather than years passed.)

All that being said … here are the FIVE countries that had to toil in the trenches longest between Eurovision wins, presented in ascending order:

5. Denmark (1963-2000) 🇩🇰

Denmark has competed at Eurovision since its second ever contest in 1957. Its first victory came in six years later, when Grethe and Jørgen Ingmann decisively overtook the 15 other entries competing at the 1963 contest with “Dansevise”. Over the 37 years that followed, the country competed at Eurovision 23 times², placing in the Top 5 of the Grand Final on five occasions, or about 22% of the time. Its next taste of victory came in the year 2000, when the Olsen Brothers‘ “Fly on the Wings of Love” bested the competition. Denmark only had to wait nearly half as long for its next victorious entry, 2013’s “Only Teardrops” by Emmelie de Forest. 

4. Germany (1982-2010) 🇩🇪

Germany was a founding Eurovision nation and has participated since the contest’s inaugural edition in 1956. Despite that, it had to wait 26 years before securing its first champion: 1982’s runaway winner “Ein bißchen Frieden” by Nicole. Germany’s following victory was even further delayed, coming 28 years later with 2010’s “Satellite” by Lena. In between 1982 and 2010, the country participated at 27 contests, placing in the Top 5 of the Grand Final six times, or at a rate of around 22%. Germany has yet to win for a third time and has only placed in the Top 5 of the Grand Final once over the last 14 years. 

3. Switzerland (1956-1988) 🇨🇭

And we return to the country that inspired this article to begin with! As stated above, were Switzerland to win this year’s contest, it would be 36 years and 30 contest appearances since its win by Celine Dion in 1988. That gap is similar to the one that existed between its win at the very first contest in 1956 by Lys Assia‘s “Refrain” and the aforementioned Canadian-sensation’s victory with “Ne partez pas sans moi” 32 years later. In between those two milestones, Switzerland participated at Eurovision 31 times, placing in the Top 5 of the Final 11 times. (That’s a rate of over 35%.) Switzerland has placed in the Top 5 of the Grand Final only four times since then, or at a rate of around 13%, but odds look good that its championship drought may be ending this year! 

2. Austria (1966-2014) 🇦🇹

With 48 years between its Eurovision victories in 1966 and 2014, Austria has had the biggest gap between contest wins when measured strictly in years passed. But spotty participation in the 1970s and 2000s means that, in the period between Udo Jürgens‘ win with “Merci, Chérie” and Conchita Wurst‘s win with “Rise Like a Phoenix”, Austria only competed 36 times. Over that nearly five decade span, the country only managed a Top 5 finish in the Grand Final three times, or at a disappointing rate of a little over 8%. It hasn’t fared much better in the years since its last win, placing in the Top 10 of the Grand Final only once in 2018.

1. The Netherlands (1975-2019) 🇳🇱

One of Eurovision’s founding member nations, The Netherlands got off to a strong start at the contest, winning twice in the first four years and securing a third and fourth win over the course of the next two decades. The streak couldn’t last forever, though, and Teach-In‘s win at the 1975 contest with the song “Ding-a-dong” stood as The Netherlands’ most recent victory for 44 years. Participating 39 times before its next win, 2019’s “Arcade” by Duncan Laurence, the country only managed a Top 5 finish in the Grand Final on four occasions, or at a rate of only around 10%. The Netherlands has failed to crack even the Top 10 since its victory four contests ago, but Joost Klein’s “Europapa” seems poised for a great showing in Malmö, if the bookies are to be believed.

And so (looking at the numbers), if Nemo were to secure Switzerland its third Eurovision victory at this year’s contest, the 30-contest gap between wins would place it at #4 on this list, right above Germany and right below … itself.

Are #YOU rooting for Nemo to break Switzerland’s dry spell? Do #YOU think Kahleen can lift Austria out of its doldrums? How many colonists do #YOU predict we will have on Mars before Germany wins again? Let us know on social media @ESCUnited, on our Discord, or on our forum page!

¹For the purposes of this article, the 2020 contest has been removed from the tabulations, as its cancellation due to Covid means no placement data can be extracted.
²Years in which countries participated in but failed to make it out of preliminary qualification rounds HAVE been included in their participation count. 

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