What is the Eurovision Song Contest?
The Eurovision Song Contest is an international musical competition held annually.
The Eurovision Song Contest Format
The Eurovision Song Contest format has evolved since its inauguration in 1956:
- More than 40 countries participate
- Structured of two semi-finals and a final
- Five nations – made from the nations who contribute the most funding and the previous year’s winner – qualify directly for the final
- All other nations compete in the semi-finals
- The winning country hosts the following year’s edition of the contest
- Participation is not determined by geographical inclusion in the continent of Europe or by any inclusion in the European Union.
- Each country has one song, which must be less than 3 minutes
- Vocals have to be sung live
- No default language – acts can sing in their native tongue
- Songs must be original & unreleased
How the winner is determined?
The Eurovision Song Contest winner is determined by a combination of votes collected from each participating country – including votes from countries that did not qualify for the final.
How is it judged?
Initially the Eurovision was judged by televoting, however due to allegations of political bloc voting and cultural biases in voting patterns, this method has been changed.
- It's a combination of tele-votes and the votes from five jury members for each participating country
- Each country awards 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points to its favourite ten participants.
Is voting fair?
People often question whether voting is fair in the Eurovision Song contest. The problem arises with relation to how countries arrive at their vote. Are they random or as a result of a link? Whether that's historical, geographical or cultural.
This has betting implications, as if the voting system is unfair, predicting the winner would be easier for bettors.
There is plenty of past research into the voting in Eurovision.
In 2006 Fenn & others modelled the Eurovision as a network and found a number of strong correlations:
- Cyprus and Greece tend to show the greatest correlation
- Strong affiliation between Nordic countries (together with Estonia)
- These countries also award similar points to other acts, showing a further cultural affinity
However, Yair shows that while some countries tend to vote for each other (e.g. Ireland and Malta), they tend to disagree with respect to the votes cast to other countries.
Similarly countries may have similar voting patterns (eg. Ireland and UK) but do not reciprocate votes. He provides an interesting subdivision of European tastes, where we see similar cliques emerging.
Furthermore, Ginsburgh and Noury focused their efforts on judge voting and found no evidence of vote trading that cannot be explained by linguistic, cultural or geographical reasons.
Therefore research suggests that voting is fair but isn’t random and Eurovision voting cliques exist due to cultural reasons.
Despite voting appearing fair, bettors should think carefully about cultural affiliations between nations, as it’s far from random. Bettors are advised to research historical voting patterns to identify cliques so they have a better chance of predicting the Eurovision Song Contest winner.
This article was co-authored with Antoine Vella.