Eurovision 2016 – Semi Final 1 Preview

Its that time of year again. Eurovision is less then a month away. Its been some time since I have done a Eurovision Preview so it’s time to get back into it, especially since I got the 2016 Album on Friday and have been listening to it since!

Now I posted about the new voting system already and this will also apply to the Semi Finals, but we wont know the actual result until after the Grand Final. We will only find out the names of the 10 qualifiers who will join Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom in the Grand Final on May 14th.

So on with the show

Semi Final One takes place on Tuesday May 10th in the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm. 18 Countries will be hoping for one of the 10 qualification places for the Grand Final. Voting AND performing in this Semi will be France, Spain and Sweden. So lets look at the participants. Continue reading “Eurovision 2016 – Semi Final 1 Preview”

Eurovision Grand Final 2013

Tonight is the night. 26 countries take to the stage in Malmö to compete to be the winning act of the 58th Eurovision Song Contest. The running order for tonight is as follows:

01. France
02. Lithuania
03. Moldova
04. Finland
05. Spain
06. Belgium
07. Estonia
08. Belarus
09. Malta
10. Russia
11. Germany
12. Armenia
13. The Netherlands
14. Romania
15. United Kingdom
16. Sweden
17. Hungary
18. Denmark
19. Iceland
20. Azerbaijan
21. Greece
22. Ukraine
23. Italy
24. Norway
25. Georgia
26. Ireland

Things you should know

The running order of the show was set by SVT, the host broadcaster. Normally countries are put in a draw to decide the running order, but SVT have controversial changed that replacing that draw with one that decided which half of the show an act would be in. This is supposed to ensure that the contest is more exciting and that similar entries won’t be too close, but I wonder will it change anything. The only country that had a position drawn was Sweden has host and they got number 16.

Also there is a change with the voting. Normally the top 10 in the Jury and Televote are compared to get the the final figures, this normally means that if you score high enough in one, you should get some points, but now the entire results will be compared meaning that acts have to score well with the jury and the voting public to ensure they get points on the night. This will be interesting  and the voting might be less political tonight.

Bloc Voting

None of the former Yugoslav entries this year made it into the final for the first time since the Semi-Finals were introduced and Albania also miss out on qualification. While Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina did not enter this year, surely that is not the reason for this. But it does mean that there is a big “bloc” vote tonight that is missing its traditional partners, so where the votes will go will be interesting. It could benefit a number of countries including Greece, Romania, Ukraine and Russia.

Also with a all of the Nordic countries after qualifying the bloc voting could be split. Whether or not this will affect Denmark as all its neighbours have qualified will be one to watch.

The Curses

There are a number of curses associated with Eurovision. The most famous being the curse of number 2. The curse is that the act drawn to be the 2nd song will not win. This is because no entry has ever won from this position. This year the curse has fallen on Lithuania. So sorry Andrius, you can blame SVT!

The other curse is lesser known, but is the Curse of last years host. This hasnt always been true, eg Ireland in the mid 90’s, but has been true for Russia 2009 and Norway in 2010, but will it be true for Azerbaijan?

The Betting Odds

Its notoriously difficult to predict the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, but looking at the betting odds it certainly seems to be Denmarks to loose, but with Norway also having a strong entry, Denmark might not run away with it. The top 10 according to PaddyPower are:

  1. Denmark 4/6
  2. Norway 11/2
  3. Ukraine 9/1
  4. Russia 12/1
  5. Azerbaijan 14/1
  6. Netherlands 25/1
  7. Italy 25/1
  8. Ireland 25/1
  9. Greece 33/1
  10. Georgia 33/1

Armenia, Estonia, Spain and France have the worst odds with 250/1.

My Favourites

I am not going to make a prediction, but here are the 5 songs that I will be supporting tonight in no particular order.

Denmark: Fantastic song and a firm favourite, been listing to it all week! Start looking up accommodation in Copenhagen as the Danes know how to put on a show!

United Kingdom: Bonnie is back and its a fantastic song. While its isnt in the bookies top 10, it is definitely up there for me!

France: Amazing song, full of soul and reminds me of Amy Winehouse. Just brilliant

Greece: One of the fun songs this year and there isn’t many! Delighted this got trough. Go on Greece!

Ireland: At the end of the day I am a patriot and I will always support the Irish entry! But with Ryan closing the show, he will certainly be in the mix!

Now remember to enjoy the night! I will be tweeting during the final if anyone is interested!

 

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Eurovision 2013: Semi Final Two Preview

Welcome to the preview of Semi Final Two of the 58th Eurovision Song Contest. Earlier I previewed the entries in Semi Final One which takes place on Tuesday 14th of May. Semi-Final Two takes place on Thursday 16th of May in the Malmö Arena in Sweden. 17 countries are vying for ten places up for grabs for the Final of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday 18th of May. Statistically this is the harder Semi-Final as there are more entries, but a lot of the favourites are in Semi-Final One meaning that it might be easier for some of the weaker acts to get through to the final.

As well as the 17 countries participating, Germany, Spain and France will be voting in this Semi Final. All odds taken on 08/05/2013 from PaddyPower.com

1. Latvia: PeR with “Here We Go” Odds: 150/1

One of the more rockier entries opens up this semi-final. I am not sure what to make of this. To be honest I cringed a lot. While I do like a bit of rock music, this isn’t a very strong entry.

Prediction: I am not sure if you would consider this singing. So I do not see this getting through to the final.

2. San Marino: Valentina Monetta with “Crisalide” Odds: 80/1

Malta bring us back to Ballads which made up much of the first Semi-Final. This is a much better entry then last year. San Marino have threatened to pull out of the 2014 edition if doesn’t qualify. It is worth noting that it is a fan favourite coming second in the OGAE International Poll.

Prediction: This isn’t a bad song. But with Italy not voting in this Semi-Final it could find it hard to pick up votes. It may struggle, but I think it will Qualify. Also the curse of number may strike.

3. F.Y.R Macedonia: Esma & Lozano with “Pred Da Se Razdeni” Odds: 150/1

Macedonia have decided to use the formula that worked for Azerbaijan back in 2011 and have sent a duet. Granted this is very much a unconventional pairing! But musically it works. The only issue here is that it does not really catch you. Macedonia will also suffer as many of its Balkan neighbours are in the other Semi-Final.

Prediction: While a good song, I can’t see it getting the votes. Pity.

4. Azerbaijan: Farid Mammadov with “Hold Me” Odds:25/1

Another curse associated with Eurovision is the curse of last years hosts. Many people will be watching closely to see if it strikes Azerbaijan this year after their hosting last year in Baku. This year they have entered a ballad by a male singer so that does mark it out from most of what we heard in Semi Final One.

Prediction: Azerbaijan I think will continue its run of successful entries and will qualify for the final easily, but will it be in top 10?

5. Finland: Krista Siegfrids with “Marry Me” Odds: 66/1

Finland who have one of the more dodgier records in Eurovision, has this year sent a song that is assured of qualifying. This is a fun uptempo song that you find yourself nodding along to. Its  “uh-oh, ding dong”‘s tick plenty of Eurovision  boxes! But it doesn’t harm its chances.

Prediction: A fun song, Finland will qualify easily and finish mid table.

6. Malta: Gianlucca Bezzina with “Tomorrow” Odds: 80/1

To be honest I was waiting for this type of folk type pop that is becoming popular again. This song about love certainly is one to make you smile!

Prediction: Should Qualify.

7. Bulgaria: Elitsa Todorova, Stoyan Yankulov with “Samo Shampioni (Only Champions)” Odds: 200/1

Now Bulgaria normally sends something a bit different and this year is no exception. This is certainly different! There is so much happening style wise here that I don’t know where to start. Not my cup of tea.

Prediction: Is going to languish in the Semi’s… I hope.

8. Iceland: Eythor Ingi with “Ég Á Líf” Odds: 100/1

Back to the slow ballads with Iceland and apart from the name of the country I can’t pronounce anything else to do with this entry. It isn’t popular in this house with the sister saying “that its sounds like its from an old Irish film like Songs for a raggy boy, or a chessy song from an ad”. Also Iceland decided not to translate their entry this year, I’m not sure if that has worked for them.

Prediction: Won’t qualify.

9. Greece: Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis with “Alcohol Is Free” Odds: 66/1

Now this is more like it. Greece bring us back to some rock, and they do it better then Latvia. While I agree with the sentiment of the title of the song, I am assured that Alcohol is not free in Greece! This one will have you bopping along and saying “Alcohol is Free” very fast for the chorus!

Prediction: This will qualify.

10. Israel: Moran Mazor with “Rak Bishvilo” Odds: 150/1

Israel have decided to also send a ballad this year. While Moran is an excellent singer, yet again this song doesnt hook. It will struggle to qualify if at all.

Prediction: Israel somehow always qualify, so no change there.

11. Armenia: Dorians with “Lonely Planet” Odds: 100/1

Armenia are back following their withdrawal from the 2012 edition as it was hosted by Azerbaijan (arch-enemies, not just in Eurovision). They have entered a soft rock song this year and while it does stand out, it may have a hard time getting votes as it shares this Semi-Final with Azerbaijan.

Prediction: Sorry Armenia, try again next year.

12. Hungry: ByeAlex with “Kedvesem (Zoohacker Remix)” Odds: 100/1

This is one of those songs that have a 50/50 chance of qualifying. It is very different and simple. Its one to just listen to and close your eyes. Go on.

Prediction: Im not sure what Eurovision voters will make of this. I think it will squeek into the final.

13. Norway: Margaret Berger with “I Feed You My Love” Odds: 13/2

One of this years favourites. It came 3rd in the OGAE International Poll, so Eurovision could be staying in the Nordic countries. After Hungry, Norway’s Margaret gets us going again. This does remind me of the entries the Ukraine used to send. Uptempo, rocky and sexy. Will go down well with the audience and should do well with the voters…. the juries are another matter!

Prediction: Norway on course for a rare top 5 finish! Will easily qualify.

14. Albania: Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko with “Identitet” Odds: 150/1

Albania brings us some more rock. It is a bit nondescript though. Nothing stays with you after listening to it. Could struggle with votes.

Prediction: With very few balkan countries in this semi, I dont see this qualifying.

15. Georgia: Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani with “Waterfall” Odds: 22/1

Georgia is also trying out the duet strategy that worked for Azerbaijan in 2011.  It is a stronger pairing then Macedonia, and so should do well. This song also seems to have that power and step up that is missing from many of the ballad entries this year.

Prediction: Will Qualify and will challenge for a top 10 finish.

16. Switzerland: Takasa with “You and Me” Odds: 150/1

If in doubt send in the Army! Well the Salvation Army. Yup, that is what Switzerland is sending this year! Takasa features the oldest person to grace the Eurovision Stage, 95-year-old Emil Ramsauer on double bass! This is a lovely twee song, but at least they are trying and a warning it grows on you!

Prediction: This song grows on you, so I wouldnt be surprised if it qualifies!

17. Romania: Cezar with “It’s My Life” Odds: 80/1

Wow, can he hit the high notes! That was a little unexpected! While it isn’t as good as last years entry from Romania. It certainly is a good entry.

Prediction: Something unexpected and with it finishing the show it should Qualify.

That is San Marino, Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Georgia and Romania to qualify. We see if that actually happens! Semi-Final Two will be broadcast at 8pm on Thursday 16th of May on RTÉ2 and BBC3.

Handbook and App

Don’t forget the excellent 2013 Eurovision Handbook is available for download for your Kindle or Kindle enabled Device. Do get it as it is aid of the Irish Cancer Society, plus it is full of all the information you need for this years contest!

Also Eurovision has launched free companion apps for the show available for iPhone/iPad and Android devices. They look great and you can vote via the App (Paypal account needed for billing). See Eurovision.tv for more details.

 

 

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Eurovision 2012: Semi-Final One Preview

Its that time of year again! Eurovision Time! Like every year I do a preview of the Semi’s and attempt to predict who will get into the final.

This year the 57th Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Baku, Azerbaijan. 42 countries will be taking part. Montenegro returns this year to the competition while Poland and Armenia wont be taking part.

10 countries from each of the Semi-finals will proceed to the Final and join the five automatic qualifiers, the Big Four (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) and last years winners and this year’s host Azerbaijan.

The voting will be again be by a combination of Televoting and Professional Jury.

The First Semi Final will take place on the 22nd of May, followed by the Second Semi Final on the 24th of May and the final taking place on May 26th. All shows start at 8:00pm GMT (9:00pm CET)

Ireland has been drawn in the First Semi-Final and along with the 18 countries in this final Azerbaijan, Italy and Spain will be voting in this Semi.

All odds are from Paddy Power and correct on April 15th. Odds are for winning the overall contest.

01 Montenegro: Rambo Amadeus with “Euro Neuro

If you tune in late during the first semi and you can’t figure out whats going on, its probably cause Rambo Amadeus is on stage doing what is described as “crazy jazz-funk music”. Im not sure if you would class it as music. Cant see this getting out of the Semi. Odds: 125/1

02 Iceland: Gréta Salóme & Jónsi with “Never Forget

Iceland is one those countries I normally like and this year they have a duet. This is a bit of rock duet and is a good one. Jónsi previously represented Iceland in Istanbul in 2004 with “Heaven” and came 19th. While Gréta Salóme is a multi talented singer/songwriter who also plays the violin. They combine well on this song and should do well in Baku. Odds: 22/1

03 Greece: Eleftheria Eleftheriou with “Aphrodisiac

I won’t even attempt to pronounce this ladies name, who is a good singer. She came to fame through X-Factor 2 in 2010, even though she didn’t win. This song is like many past Greek entries. Upbeat pop and catchy! I can definately see myself singing along to this! This should definitely qualify. Odds 22/1

04 Latvia: Anmary with “Beautiful Song”

“She was born in a distant 1980, in the year that Johnny Logan won” that is the first line if this entry from Anmary. She got her start when she came 2nd in The Talent Factory. This song is about fame and name drops a number of famous people. Its an interesting song, and one I do enjoy. Will it stand out at Eurovision is the question. Odds 100/1

05 Albania Rona Nishliu with “Suus” (Personal)

And the first Ballad is from Albania. Some years Ballads are few and far between and that can help make them stand out. Rona certainly has a voice that suits this song. She does a wonderful job with and hopefully can do it on the night. Odds: 100/1

06 Romania: Mandinga with “Zaleilah

Bagpipes, an accordian, a catchy summer tune, whats not to love? Mandinga bring a bit of the the summer party to Eurovision with this song and I for one enjoy it. Mandinga play latino music, latin jazz, balkan salsa or even club music and this song certainly sounds like the perfect mix of them! Odds: 33/1

07 Switzerland: Sinplus with “Unbreakable

And now a rock song! Sinplus are brothers Ivan and Gabriel Broggini who grew up listening to Queen, Bob Marley and U2. This is a good song, but not one you would listen to a lot. Odds: 100/1

08 Belgium: Iris with “Would You?

Belgium send a young 17 year old to the contest, hoping to do what Sandra Kim did in 1986. Here Iris is singing a ballad, which to me is a bet meh and the odds are reflecting this. It will be hard for this to get out of the semi. Odds: 125/1

09 Finland: Pernilla Karlsson with “När jag blundar” (When I close my eyes)

And at the halway point, Finland sends a Swedish Ballad to Baku this year. It is another ballad, but its a nicer one then Belgium, but coming straight after them could harm it. It could sneak out of the Semi. Odds: 80/1

10 Israel: Izabo with “Time

Israel are taking a different direction this year and are sending Izabo, a band that combines Psychadelic Rock, Disco and Punk flavoured with Arabic spices. This is certainly different and should be some fun on stage in Baku. This may well qualify. Odds 100/1

11 San Marino: Valentina Monetta with “The Social Network Song

This is a bit of a strange song about love online and using social networks for love. Its one those songs that is trying to be current. Im not sure if it works. Odds: 150/1

12 Cyprus: Ivi Adamou with “La La Love

This is another summer song that will be in my head for awhile. A more upbeat song then normal from Cyprus but a good move, but coming after the pop song from San Marino might make it harder for them.

13 Denmark: Soluna Samay with “Should’ve Known Better

Denmark is another country I always like and this year is no exception. An excellent song which is a pop song along the lines of Carly Rae Jepsen and Taylor Swift which are popular at the moment. This should qualify no problem. Odds:14/1

14 Russia Buranovskiye Babushki with “Party for Everybody

Buranovskiye Babushki or the Russian Grannies as they seem to be known as hail from Udmurtia, a republic between the Kama and Vyatka rivers in Russia. They are certainly very different to anything that has come to Eurovision in the past! They beat a past Eurovision winner to get to Baku so I think they are very much in contention for the top spot! Odds: 5/1

15 Hungary: Compact Disco with “Sound of Our Hearts

After the Russian Grannies we have Compact Disco a dance act from Hungary. It certainly stands out after the last song, but if thats the only reason it won’t go further in the final. It certainly a song that will chart around Europe so will be in the final. Odds: 80/1

16 Austria: Trackshittaz with “Woki mit deim Popo” (Shake your ass)

This duo have their own unique genre “tractor gangster party rap” which may go down well in Ireland! For me it is a bit shouty, but one that will be played in clubs around Europe! I will be in the mix to qualify, but will the name but people off? Odds: 80/1

17 Moldova: Pasha Parfeny with “Lăutar

This is a fun song from Pasha who is well used to winning international music festivals and is hoping to add a Eurovision win to his collection. This is a song that I certainly enjoy, but the bookies don’t think Pasha can take the top prize. Odds 100/1

18 Ireland: Jedward with “Waterline

And to finish out the show, its Jedward!! Jedward, (John and Edward for anyone who has been living under a rock) Irish twins from Lucan, Dublin, try a second time to win Eurovision. Last year they came 8th in Dusseldorf with “Lipstick“. This is fast, uptempo pop song and should see them into the final. At the moment they are 3rd favourite at the bookies with odds of 10/1. Come on Jedward!

Prediction

This is always the hard part, who I want to get in, and actually will. These are the ten acts I think will qualify in no particular order.

  1. Ireland
  2. Russia
  3. Greece
  4. Iceland
  5. Denmark
  6. Romania
  7. Austria
  8. Israel
  9. Finland
  10. Moldova

Who do you think will qualify?

Portugal Approves Fiscal Compact

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 01:  Portuguese Pr...

Portugal today became the first state to approve the Fiscal Compact. 25 of the 27 EU Member states signed up to the tightened budget rules. The United Kingdom and the Czech Republic are the only two not to sign up. It is interesting that Portugal were first to approve the treaty as they were the third country to get a bailout of the EU/ECB/IMF after Ireland and Greece.

The Portuguese Government were supported by the opposition Socialists in passing the pact which was approved by 204 votes to 24, with two abstentions.

Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho told parliament that the pact represented a “moment of confirmation of the European consensus”

Antonio José Seguro, the Socialist leader, said: “This treaty is vital to Portugal staying in the euro.”

Mr Seguro said: “This treaty may be a response to markets, but it is not a response to the crisis and to the problems of Portuguese, to unemployment. It is an unbalanced treaty.”

Mr Seguro raises some valid points as the Pact also does not deal with issues of Bank Debt but it is part of a number of initiatives to try and fix the Crisis in the Eurozone.

Ireland will be voting on the Fiscal Compact on May 31st. Ireland will be the only country to hold a referendum on the pact.

Don’t forget you can read the Fiscal Compact here

How soon before we go to the EU-IMF?

Broken Cross
Image by Lochinvar1 via Flickr

Yesterday I found this post on the Telegraph website (via Stephen Kinsella). Its quite a worrying read for those of us who are worried about Ireland’s future.

Ireland is funded until April but after that we will have to return to the bond market. Our auctions are currently suspended. As Colm McCarthy said in the Irish Independent

“The €1.5bn not borrowed in October plus the €1.5bn not borrowed in November represent borrowing postponed, not borrowing avoided,”

If we can’t raise this money, we may have to tap our pensions reserve of €12bn, but that is not a good idea as we do need that money.

The spreads over German Bunds are mimicking the action seen in Greece in the final hours before the dam broke.

This is a worrying sign. Are we about to the way of Greece?

Even if the government manage to win the Donegal South West election and pass the budget, we might still not be better off.

Its looking like sooner or later we will have to go cap in hand to the EU-IMF bailout fund.

http://www.gaycork.com/forum/member.php?u=5457
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IMF says we are screwed

International Monetary Fund
Image via Wikipedia

The Telegraph have an excellent article on the latest IMF report – “Will It Hurt? Macroeconomic Effects of Fiscal Consolidation” – and what it means for countries trying to make cuts.

In Ireland we cut to quickly. We forgot to bring in a stimulus like other countries. Cuts in budgets mean growth cuts, which will lead to a longer depression.

According to the report Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece) and Ireland could be in for an extended recession. With bug cuts coming in Germany and France, they could be joining them, as well as making it less likely for Southern Europe to recover as no demand for goods.

Has the article states:

We are seeing a pattern – first in Ireland, now in Greece and Portugal – where cuts are failing to close the deficit as fast as hoped. Austerity itself is eroding tax revenues. Countries are chasing their own tail.

So what are Governments doing? Cutting more. It doesn’t bode well for the future. We need something to encourage spending, we need something to get other countries to buy our goods. How will we do that? I am not sure, but by leaving out the stimulus we cut too hard and fast. We could be stuck for awhile. This is not good for our government as,

The lesson of the 1930s is that politics can turn ugly as slumps drag into a third year, and voters lose faith in the promised recovery.

Most of the country has already lost faith in the Government and the other political parties are having varying support levels, (see here).

We have no choice but to cut. The deficit is too high. Its that or leave Anglo fall. Maybe that would mean the cuts would not have to be so deep and therefore we would have a fighting chance of recovery. I some how doubt our government will take that chance.

a tip of the hat to Peebles for the link

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EMail: Greek gay rights activist gets sued for denouncing hate speech

A Greek bishop sued a Greek LGBT activist and an HIV/AIDS charity for 1 million euro, after the latter denounced him for his homophobic hate speech.

Hate speech against gays, lesbians and transgender people in Greece takes place with impunity. Several leading politicians, ministers, and religious leaders, as well as several journalists and other public figures, repeatedly insult and demean gays and lesbians without any legal or disciplinary consequences.

The latest example is the bishop of the Piraeus, Seraphim, who in an article maligned gays as ‘morally corrupt, obsessed with satisfying their psychopathological deviation and who have made a life value out of the faeces elimination tract’. Such is Seraphim’s hatred against gays that he supports the claims of an alleged murderer. The bishop said that the popular Greek actor Nikos Seryanopoulos, who was murdered in what seems to be a homophobic crime, brought this on himself because, according to the alleged murderer, Seryanopoulos forced him to have sex, and him not being ‘that way’ got upset and defended himself by stabbing the actor 21 times.

The above was sent to me by Synthesis HIV/AIDS Awareness a greek AIDS organisation who along with gay rights activist Leo Kalovyrnas. A petition to the Greek Government to ban hate speech against the Gay, Lesbian and Transexual community in Greece by changing the anti-discrimination law 927/1979 so as to cover hate crimes against the Greek LGBT community is online and I urge people to sign it.

The trial is due to start on 3rd February 2009 and I hope to keep a close eye on it.

EU Constitution – Greece!

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Greece has been the latst country to ratify the European Contitutional Treaty. See below for a rough idea on the progression in other Memeber States.

STATE OF PLAY
Austria – Parliament
Belgium – Parliament
Cyprus – Parliament
Czech Republic – Possible Referendum (June 2006?)
Denmark – Referendum 27 September 2005
Estonia – Parliament
Finland – Parliament (Auitumn 2005)
France – Referendum (29 May 2005)
Germany – Parliament
Greece – Parliament (19 April 2005)
Hungary- Parliament (Approved 20 December 2004)
Ireland – Referendum
Italy – Parliament (Approved 7 April 2005)
Latvia – Parliament
Lithuania – Parliament (Approved 11 November 2004)
Luxembourg – Consultative Referendum 10 July 2005
Malta – Parliament (July 2005)
Netherlands – Consultive Referendum 1 June 2005
Poland – Probable Referendum
Portugal – Referendum (October 2005)
Slovakia – Parliament
Slovenia – Parliament (1 February 2005)
Spain – Referendum (Passed 20 february 2005, 76.7% Congress on 28 April. Senate June 2005)
Sweden – Parliament (December 2005)
United Kingdom – Referendum (2006?)