Spain has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 57 times since making its debut in 1961, where they finished ninth. Since 1999, Spain is one of the "Big Five", along with France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, who are automatically allowed to participate in the final because they are the five biggest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union. Spain has competed in the contest continuously since the country's debut in 1961. The only country with a longer run of uninterrupted Eurovision appearances is the United Kingdom, ever-present since 1959.
Spain has won the contest twice, first in 1968 with the song "La, la, la" sung by Massiel and again in 1969, when Salomé's "Vivo cantando" was involved in a four way tie with Lulu's "Boom Bang-a-Bang", representing the United Kingdom, Frida Boccara's "Un jour, un enfant", representing France, and Lennie Kuhr's "De troubadour"", representing the Netherlands. The 1969 contest in Madrid is the only time Spain has hosted the event, since lots were drawn after 1969's four way tie and the 1970 contest was hosted by the Netherlands. Spain has also finished second in the contest four times, with Karina in 1971, Mocedades in 1973, Betty Missiego in 1979 and Anabel Conde in 1995, and third in 1984 with Bravo. The country finished last with "Nul points" three times: in 1962, 1965 and 1983, and also finished last in 1999 and 2017. Spain has had less success in recent years, failing to reach the top 10 in 11 of the last 13 contests (2005–2017). The exceptions being 10th-place finishes for Pastora Soler in 2012 and Ruth Lorenzo in 2014.
Spain has regularly changed the selection process used in order to find the country's entry for the contest, either a national final or internal selection (sometimes a combination of both formats) has been held by the broadcaster at the time. Between 1977 and 1999, Spain's entries were selected internally by TVE. Before that, internal selections and national contests, like Pasaporte a Dublín (Passport to Dublin) in 1971, were alternated.
From 2000, Spain has used various selection formats with different results. In 2000 and 2001, TVE organised a national final called Eurocanción (Eurosong), where the Spanish representative was selected for the contest. From 2002 to 2004, the reality show Operación Triunfo (the Spanish version of Star Academy) was used to select the entry, a format that renewed the Spanish audience's interest in the contest and brought three top 10 results in a row, until TVE decided not to host any further editions of the show. In 2005, the national final Eurovisión 2005: Elige nuestra canción (Eurovision 2005: Choose Our Song) was organised, where the audience chose their favourite song among a pre-selection made by TVE of unknown artists submitted to them by record labels. The result in the Eurovision final was not good and for 2006, the selection was made internally for the first time since 1999, with a similar result. In 2007, Spain's entry was decided through the Misión Eurovisión 2007 show, with a disappointing result once again.
From 2008 to 2010, the Internet was the key element of the competitions used by TVE to select the Spanish entry. In 2008, the social networking website MySpace was involved in the national final Salvemos Eurovisión (Let's Save Eurovision). A website was created to make it possible for anyone to upload a song and proceed to a televised final if chosen by online voters or an expert jury. The result improved a little, but not much; nevertheless the interest of the Spanish audience was revived again. For 2009, MySpace was still involved in the selection process Eurovisión 2009: El retorno (Eurovision 2009: The Return), although some changes were introduced in the format. The result was the worst in the 2000s (decade): 24th place. In 2010, a similar format, Eurovisión: Destino Oslo, selected the Spanish entry, with the best result since 2004 (15th).
In 2011, Internet voting was scrapped from the new selection method Destino Eurovisión. After a further disappointing result (23rd), for 2012, TVE decided to approach an established act, Pastora Soler, and organise a national final to select her song. A top ten result was achieved for the first time since 2004. The same procedure was repeated in 2013, with El Sueño de Morfeo as the established act, which turned out one of the most disappointing results (25th out of 26 entries) in the country's Eurovision history; some critics, however, blamed a less-than-stellar performance of an otherwise solid song. In 2014, TVE decided to return to a multi-artist national final procedure, called Mira quién va a Eurovisión (Look who's going to Eurovision); five artists were invited to participate by TVE. A top ten result was achieved for the second time in three years.
In 2015, for the first time since 2006, both the artist, Edurne, and the song were selected internally by TVE. On 18 December 2015, TVE announced that it would organise a national final in order to select the Spanish entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 as today.
Spain and the "Big Five"
Since 1999, four particular countries have automatically qualified for the Eurovision final, regardless of their positions on the scoreboard in previous Contests. They earned this special status by being the four biggest financial contributors to the EBU. These countries are the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain. Due to their untouchable status in the Contest, these countries became known as the "Big Four". Italy returned to the contest in 2011, thus becoming part of a "Big Five".
Only three times in the contest's history has a non-winning entry been allowed to perform again, and in two of these instances, the entries in question were Spanish representatives (the other one being the Italian entry in 1958, "Nel blu dipinto di blu" by Domenico Modugno). The first time this happened to a Spanish representative was in the 1990 contest in Zagreb, when Azúcar Moreno opened the contest with the song "Bandido." The orchestra and the recorded playback began the song out of sync, which caused the singers to miss their cue. The singers left the stage after a few seconds, and no explanation was given at the time. After a few uneasy moments, the music began correctly and the song was performed in full. Azúcar Moreno and "Bandido" went on to place fifth in the final vote tally, though the juries at the time actually awarded their points after watching the dress rehearsal performances, so the restart did not affect Spain's overall result either positively or negatively.
Twenty years later, at the 2010 contest in Oslo, Spain was drawn to perform second in the running order, and singer Daniel Diges's performance of "Algo pequeñito" was disturbed by notorious pitch invader Jimmy Jump. However, Diges performed the song in full, despite the invader's intrusion and subsequent removal from the stage by security personnel, receiving warm applause for continuing from the spectators at the Telenor Arena. After the exhibition of Serbia, co-presenter Nadia Hasnaoui announced that, according to the rules, Diges would be given a second chance once all the remaining countries had performed. Nonetheless, the juries ranked the dress-rehearsal performance of "Algo pequeñito" 20th out of 25 with 43 points, whereas the televoting results ranked Spain 12th, with 106 points. The combination of jury and televote results gave Spain a 15th-place.
- Table key
|1961||Conchita Bautista||Spanish||"Estando contigo"||9||8|
|1963||José Guardiola||Spanish||"Algo prodigioso"||12||2|
|1964||Nelly, Tim & Tony||Spanish||"Caracola"||12||1|
|1965||Conchita Bautista||Spanish||"Qué bueno, qué bueno"||15||0|
|1966||Raphael||Spanish||"Yo soy aquél"||7||9|
|1967||"Hablemos del amor"||6||9|
|1968||Massiel||Spanish||"La, la, la"||1||29|
|1971||Karina||Spanish||"En un mundo nuevo"||2||116|
|1974||Peret||Spanish||"Canta y sé feliz"||9||10|
|1975||Sergio y Estíbaliz||Spanish||"Tú volverás"||10||53|
|1976||Braulio||Spanish||"Sobran las palabras"||16||11|
|1977||Micky||Spanish||"Enséñame a cantar"||9||52|
|1978||José Vélez||Spanish, French||"Bailemos un vals"||9||65|
|1979||Betty Missiego||Spanish||"Su canción"||2||116|
|1980||Trigo Limpio||Spanish||"Quédate esta noche"||12||38|
|1981||Bacchelli||Spanish||"Y sólo tú"||14||38|
|1983||Remedios Amaya||Spanish||"¿Quién maneja mi barca?"||19||0|
|1985||Paloma San Basilio||Spanish||"La fiesta terminó"||14||36|
|1987||Patricia Kraus||Spanish||"No estás solo"||19||10|
|1988||La Década Prodigiosa||Spanish||"La chica que yo quiero"||11||58|
|1989||Nina||Spanish||"Nacida para amar"||6||88|
|1991||Sergio Dalma||Spanish||"Bailar pegados"||4||119|
|1992||Serafín Zubiri||Spanish||"Todo esto es la música"||14||37|
|1994||Alejandro Abad||Spanish||"Ella no es ella"||18||17|
|1995||Anabel Conde||Spanish||"Vuelve conmigo"||2||119|
|1996||Antonio Carbonell||Spanish||"¡Ay, qué deseo!"||20||17||14||43|
|1997||Marcos Llunas||Spanish||"Sin rencor"||6||96||No semi-finals|
|1998||Mikel Herzog||Spanish||"¿Qué voy a hacer sin ti?"||16||21|
|1999||Lydia||Spanish||"No quiero escuchar"||23||1|
|2000||Serafín Zubiri||Spanish||"Colgado de un sueño"||18||18|
|2001||David Civera||Spanish||"Dile que la quiero"||6||76|
|2002||Rosa||Spanish, English||"Europe's Living a Celebration"||7||81|
|2004||Ramón||Spanish||"Para llenarme de ti"||10||87||Member of the "Big 4"|
|2005||Son de Sol||Spanish||"Brujería"||21||28|
|2006||Las Ketchup||Spanish||"Un Blodymary"||21||18|
|2007||D'NASH||Spanish, English||"I Love You Mi Vida"||20||43|
|2008||Rodolfo Chikilicuatre||Spanish, English||"Baila el Chiki-chiki"||16||55|
|2009||Soraya Arnelas||Spanish, English||"La noche es para mí"||24||23|
|2010||Daniel Diges||Spanish||"Algo pequeñito"||15||68|
|2011||Lucía Pérez||Spanish||"Que me quiten lo bailao"||23||50||Member of the "Big 5"|
|2012||Pastora Soler||Spanish||"Quédate conmigo"||10||97|
|2013||El Sueño de Morfeo||Spanish||"Contigo hasta el final"||25||8|
|2014||Ruth Lorenzo||English, Spanish||"Dancing in the Rain"||10||74|
|2017||Manel Navarro||Spanish, English||"Do It for Your Lover"||26||5|
As of 2017, Spain's voting history is as follows: