France 1969

France was represented by Frida Boccara, with the song ‘ »Un jour, un enfant« , at the 1969 Eurovision Song Contest, which took place on 29 March in Madrid. The song was chosen internally by broadcaster ORTF, and went on to become one of the winners in the notorious four-way tie which ended the 1969 contest. This was a fourth Eurovision win for France, a record at the time.

At Eurovision

On the night of the final Boccara performed 14th in the running order, following Germany and preceding Portugal. « Un jour, un enfant » stood out as the only traditional-style Eurovision ballad in a contest very heavily dominated by uptempo pop offerings. There was no clear pattern to the 1969 voting with all four eventual winners holding the lead at some point. Before the final jury in Finland gave their votes, France, the Netherlands and Spain were tied on 18 points with the United Kingdom on 17. There were gasps from the audience as Finland bypassed Spain, gave 1 point to the United Kingdom and also ignored the Netherlands. With 5 Finnish points left to award most assumed that France would snatch a last minute victory. However, when the Finnish spokesman then announced 3 to Sweden and 2 to Switzerland, there was disbelief both from the audience and from presenter Laurita Valenzuela. Valenzuela was told by European Broadcasting Union scrutineer Clifford Brown that there were four winners, but still seemed to be expecting a tie-breaker of some kind to be put into effect to determine one winner. However, the contest rules at the time made no provision for resolving a tie at the top of the scoreboard, so nothing could be done.[1]

It is often claimed that under the current Eurovision tie-break rules, France would have been the sole winner of the 1969 contest, as France and Spain received votes from nine other juries, more than the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and then France received two 4 points votes while Spain’s highest were three 3s. However, the voting system of 1969 bears no relation to the current 12 points voting system, so comparisons are academic. In 1969 each winning song was chosen as the outright best of the evening by 18 individual jurors around Europe, and it is pointed out that there is no logic in claiming, for example, that France being rated the best by four Irish jurors should be worth ‘more’ than Spain being rated the best by one Norwegian and three Belgian jurors.

Voting

Every country had a jury of ten people. Every jury member could give one point to his or her favourite song.[1]

Points awarded to France

Points awarded to France[1]
10 points 9 points 8 points 7 points 6 points
5 points 4 points 3 points 2 points 1 point

Points awarded by France

6 points  Netherlands
2 points  Spain
1 point  Germany
 Portugal

[1]

References