Debut – 1956
Current Broadcaster – SRG SSR
National Final – Die Grosse Entscheidungsshow
Best Result – Winner (1956, 1988)
Highest Score – 148 points (1993)
Worst Result – 22nd in Semi-final, last (2004 – 0 points)
Switzerland are the first country to have won Eurovision in the inaugural 1956 Contest, where they also hosted it in the city of Lugano. In total, they have won the Contest twice. Since then, they have participated almost every year with the exception of 1995, 1999, 2001 and 2003 (all due to relegation).
All four of Switzerland’s national languages (German, French, Italian and Romansh) have been represented in the Contest at least once, with French being the most represented of these, and also being the language of their two winning songs.
In the very first Eurovision Song Contest, Switzerland had Lys Assia perform both songs. One of the songs “Refrain” was announced as the very first winner of the competition. She represented them again in 1957 and 1958, the latter of which she finished 2nd with the song “Giorgio”.
Switzerland had a fairly mixed decade in terms of results. They started the decade as they left off by grabbing 3rd in 1961 with “Nous aurons demain” (performed by Franca Di Rienzo). In 1963 however, they saw themselves on the rough end of a controversial result as they were pipped to 2nd place with the song “T’en va pas” (performed by Esther Ofarim), losing out at the last vote with the Norwegian jury seemingly changing their vote for the benefit of their Danish neighbours. The following year they suffered a humiliating last place result with the infamous ‘nul points’, a feat repeated in 1967.
The 1970’s was another mixed bag a results, and is notable for the country being represented by trio Peter, Sue and Marc three times in 1971, 1976 and 1979. They would go onto represent Switzerland for a fourth and final time in 1981.
The high points being two 4th place results in 1970 and 1976, the low point being in 1974 where they finished last.
More mixed results was the tale of the decade for Switzerland, where despite a handful of midtable results, they also achieved their best results in years. The first shining light coming in 1982, when they finished 3rd with Arlette Zola performing the song “Amour on t’aime”. Then in 1986, they came 2nd with “Pas pour moi” (performed by Daniela Simmons), the closest they came to winning in over 20 years.
Two years later in 1988, they sent the ballad “Ne partez pas sans moi”, performed by then-unknown French Canadian singer Céline Dion, snatching their second victory with the very last vote by one point. A few years after winning the Contest, Dion went onto become a global star, and is one of the most famous Eurovision participants in its long history.
When Switzerland hosted the 1989 Contest in Lausanne, their entry was notable for being the first (and so far, only) Swiss entry performed in the minority Romansh language.
The 90’s were a fairly bad time for Switzerland, where they were relegated from participating twice in 1995 and 1999, the lowest point being in 1998 when they scored ‘nul points’. They also only featured in the top 10 twice in 1991, where they came 5th, and in 1993 when Annie Cotton came 3rd with the song “Moi, tout simplement”.
Since the turn of the century, Switzerland have continued a mostly bad run of luck. They found themselves relegated again twice in 2001 and 2003 due to bad results, and in 2004 they had the unwanted distinction of ending with the worst result in a Semi-final ever by scoring ‘nul points’, a feat only ever repeated by the Czech Republic in 2009. They came last in a Semi-final again in 2010.
Switzerland have only qualified from the Semi-finals twice since their introduction: in 2005 with Estonian band Vanilla Ninja performing “Cool Vibes”, where they got a respectable 8th in the Final; and in 2011 when they narrowly qualified with the song “In Love For a While” (performed by Anna Rossinelli), which despite finishing last in the Final, the fact that it qualified at all was seen as a good result by the Swiss. They qualified for the second time in 2014 with “Hunter Of Stars” (performed by Sebalter), finishing a more respectable 13th.