There are two types of country in the European Broadcasting Union, Members and Associate Members. Australia are Associate Members. The regulations for the contest say that you must be a member of the EBU to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Why are Australia allowed to participate in 2015? Australia is allowed is because they’ve been invited – just this once – to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the contest.
Update: They keep being invited back now, so it appears.
Who is allowed to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest?
When Eurovision comes around each year, people are always saying “Israel? They’re not in Europe” or similar. You can’t deny that’s true but that has no reason for their participation or otherwise in the contest. There are 56 countries in the European Broadcasting Union and 56 countries in Europe. However, these lists are by no means identical. Here is a breakdown – participating nations are in bold:
European & EU Countries in the EBU
Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Vatican City
African Countries in the EBU
Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia
Asian & Middle Eastern Countries in the EBU
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Israel, Jordan
All of these countries may participate in the Eurovision Song Contest if they wish as they are members of the EBU. It doesn’t matter if they’re in Europe or not.
Who are the other members of the EBU?
There are also a number of Associate Members. These 22 countries, despite their membership of the EBU, may not enter the Eurovision Song Contest:
EBU Associate Members
Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mauritius, New Zealand, Oman, Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Syria, United States. The EBU have said that they are looking into the possibility of inviting guest countries in the future if the Australia thing works out.
What if Australia Win?
Australia would return for the 2016 contest, would organise the contest as winners do the following year – but it would need to held in a European city of their choice. I hope that has cleared the confusion – aggravated by Australia this year – that seems to arise each year about which countries may participate in the contest.