In the past, it's been quite rare for countries to allow non-residents to vote in their Eurovision pre-selections. I think the only time I managed to vote in a selection other than the UK's was Greece a couple of years ago, which was a slightly interminable experience, because I had to sit through a mammoth show waiting for the very narrow voting window. Ireland allowed votes from the UK last year (presumably to encourage participation from Northern Ireland) but a similar problem applied and I gave up in despair! So I'm delighted to say Portugal have made it really easy this year, and are holding an online-only preliminary vote to decide the twelve songs that will go through to the final of Festival da Canção 2011. The poll seems to close at noon today, the 27th (although it might be midnight - the Google translation is a bit ambiguous).
But...a mystery. I defy anyone to listen to the snippets of those songs and not conclude that Carla Moreno's dance track Sobrevivo is the best choice by some distance. So why on earth is it trailing so badly behind the cringeworthy A luta é alegria? Perhaps the only thing that can be said in favour of the latter song is that it's vaguely reminiscent of the quirky O meu coração não tem cor, the song that took Portugal to its best ever placing in the contest in 1996 (a mere 6th). But it doesn't have anything like the same charm, and in any case 1996 might as well be a million years ago in Eurovision terms.
In spite of the title of this post, there's no way of actually preventing the offending song from going through at this stage - with twelve qualifiers, it's bound to make it. So instead of fretting over the "top of the table clash", I decided I might as well use my vote more effectively by looking at the two songs that are effectively battling it out to secure the twelfth and last place in the final. Irritatingly, I found I liked them both more or less equally (which can't be said for several further up the leaderboard). But as Margaret Beckett once sarcastically told Neil Kinnock, "you have to choose...you have to choose all the time". So I've plumped for Esta Noite Vamos Curtir by Pop Pins. May God forgive me.
A cut out and keep guide to navigating through the voting process in Portuguese :
1. You have three votes.
2. You can cast all three votes for the same song, or spread them around.
3. After clicking on the song you want to vote for, click on 'Vote Nesta Música'.
4. Enter your email address and the verification code provided.
5. Click the activation link you are sent by email.
6. Do NOT vote for A luta é alegria. Please. I'm begging you.