Voting at the Eurovision Song Contest
There have been many different voting systems at the Eurovision Song Contest; currently the winner of the contest is selected by means of a positional voting system. Each country ranks all the entries, with twelve points given to the first choice, ten points to second, and from eight down to one point for third to tenth place, with the point values decreasing respectively. Countries have not been allowed to vote for themselves, except in 1956.
The current method for ranking entries is a 50/50 combination of both telephone vote and the votes of five jury members made up of music professionals in each country. It was first used in the final of 2009 edition, and extended the next year to semifinals.
In the past, small demographically-balanced juries made up of ordinary people were used to rank the entries. After the widespread implementation of telephone vote in 1998, juries were only used in case of televoting malfunctions or a weak telephone system. In 2003, Eircom's telephone polls system ceased to operate normally; the Irish broadcaster, RTÉ, did not receive the votes on time and instead used the votes of a panel of judges. In the first years(1997-2003) of the telephone vote, the lines were opened for a short period (5 minutes) after the performance and recap of the final song. In 2004 to 2006 the lines were opened for 10 minutes and from 2007 to 2009 the lines were opened for 15 minutes after the performance of the final song. This was implemented during the 2010 contest, thus allowing viewers to vote during the performances, however this ruling was reverted for the 2012 contest.
The BBC had used the idea of contacting regional juries by telephone in their national competition to choose their 1956 song. The EBU later adopted the idea of contacting the international juries by telephone, and this was used from the next contest, and continued to be used until 1993. In 1994, the Contest saw the first satellite link-up to juries.
For the announcement of the votes, the presenters of the Contest connect by satellite to each country in turn, inviting the spokesperson to read out that country's votes in French or English. Originally, the presenters would then repeat the votes in both languages, but since 2004, due to time constraints, the votes have only translated from English to French and vice versa instead of repeating the votes in their original language. To offset the extension to voting time caused by the increased number of participating countries, from the 2006 Contest onwards, each country's one- to seven-point votes have been added automatically to the scoreboard as that country's spokesperson was introduced, with only the eight-, ten- and twelve-point scores being read out. The scoreboard displays the number of points each country has received and, since 2008, a progress bar indicating the number of countries that have voted.
In the event of a tie for first place and for other places, after all the points have been announced, there is a tie-break procedure. It was realized that a tie-break procedure need be predetermined following the 1969 Contest, where France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom tied for first place. Since no tie-breaking system had been previously decided, it was determined that all four countries be jointly awarded the title. In protest, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Portugal did not participate the following year.
The current tie-breaking rule is that, in the event that two or more countries tie for first place and for other places the song that received points from the greater number of countries is the winner. This system is sometimes called the "count-back". If there is still a tie, the second tie-breaker is to count the number of countries who assigned twelve points to each entry in the tie. Tie-breaks continue with ten points, eight points, and so on until the tie is resolved. If the tie cannot be resolved after the number of countries which assigned one point to the song is counted equally, the song that was performed earlier in the running order is declared the winner, unless the host country performed earlier, in which case the song that was performed later would be declared the winner, rather than the host country. This rule does not take into effect for any other placings. Since 2008, the same tie-break rules now apply to ties for all places.
In 1991, the tie-break procedure was put into action when Sweden and France had both scored 146 points at the end of voting. At the time, the tie-break rule was slightly different: the first tie-break rule (the country voted for by the most other countries wins) was not yet in use. (The current rule of first determining the country with the votes from the most countries wouldn't be added until 2003.) Both Sweden and France had received the maximum of twelve points four times. Only when the number of ten-point scores had been counted could Sweden, represented by Carola with the song "Fångad av en stormvind", claim its third victory, having received five ten-point scores against France's two. Thus, the French song, "Le Dernier qui a parlé..." performed by Amina, came second with the smallest ever losing margin.
Scoring no points
As each of the participating countries casts a series of preference votes, under the current scoring system it is rare that a song fails to receive any votes at all; such a result means that the song failed to make the top ten most popular songs in any country.
The first zero points in Eurovision were scored in 1962, under a new voting system.
When a country finishes with a score of zero, it is often referred to in English-language media as nul points, or sometimes nil points. The correct French for "no points" is pas de points or zéro point, but none of these phrases is used in the contest, as no-point scores are not announced by the presenters.
Entries which received no points, prior to the introduction of the current scoring system in 1975, are as follows:
Entries which received no points since the introduction of the current scoring system in 1975 are as follows:
Since the creation of a semi-final in 2004 and expansion to two semi-finals in 2008, more than thirty countries vote each night[dubious ], even the countries eliminated or already qualified. Occurrences of scoring no points thus become rarer; it would require a song to place less than tenth in every country in both jury and televote. In the 2004 semi-final, Switzerland's "Celebrate" by Piero Esteriore & The MusicStars received no points, but only 32 countries out of 36 voted, and in the first 2009 semifinal, where only 20 countries voted, Czech Republic's "Aven Romale" by Gypsy.cz received no points.
The first time a host nation has ever finished with nul points was in the 2015 final, when Austria's "I Am Yours" by The Makemakes scored zero.
In 2003, following the UK's first zero score, an online poll was held to determine public opinion about each zero-point entry's worthiness of the score. Spain's Remedios Amaya (1983) won the poll as the song that least deserved a zero, while Austria's Wilfried from 1988 ended up last as the song that best deserved zero. In 2012, even though it did score in the combined voting, France's "Echo (You and I)" by Anggun received no points from televoting. Also, in the first semi-final, although Belgium's "Would You?" by Iris received 2 points in the televoting, those points were from the Albanian jury, which counted as points from the televoting, meaning that Belgium received no official points from televoting if Albania's jury points don't count.
Regional bloc voting
Statistical analysis of the results between 2001 and 2005 suggests the occurrence of regional bloc voting; it is a matter of debate whether it is primarily explained by conscious political alliances or by a tendency for culturally close countries to have similar musical tastes. Historically, the United Kingdom and France would exchange points at an average of 6.5 points per contest, and the United Kingdom has on many occasions had such a relationship with Ireland. Several countries can be organised into voting blocs which regularly award each other high points:
- Greece and Cyprus;
- Turkey and Azerbaijan;
- Ireland and United Kingdom;
- Austria, Germany and Switzerland;
- Netherlands and Belgium;
- Andorra, Portugal and Spain;
- Nordic states: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland;
- Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania;
- Romania and Moldova, acting as a bridge between the Balkan and Warsaw Pact states;
- Balkan countries:
- Macedonia and Albania;
- The former Yugoslav countries: Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Croatia;
- Former USSR countries of Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Moldova.
But it's also normal if countries award points to their neighbours regularly even if they aren't part of the same bloc with Finland and Estonia, Germany and Denmark, the Baltic states and Russia or Albania and Greece just being some examples.
There are also votes based on the diaspora. Greece, Turkey, Poland, Russia and the former Yugoslav countries normally get high scores from Germany or United Kingdom, Armenia high votes from France or Belgium, Lithuania from Ireland, Romania from Spain, Albania from Switzerland etc.
Bjørn Erichsen, former director of Eurovision TV, disagrees with the assertion that regional bloc voting significantly affects the outcome of the contest, arguing that Russia's first victory in 2008 was only possible with votes from thirty-eight of the participating countries.
|1956||2 points||Two jury members from each country award two points to their favourite song.|
|1957–1961||1–10 points||Ten jury members per country had ten points to give to their favourite songs.|
|1962||3, 2 and 1 points||Ten jury members per country could give points to their three favourite songs.|
|1963||5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 points||Twenty jury members per country could give points to their five favourite songs.|
|1964–1966||5, 3 and 1 points||Ten jury members per country could give points to their three favourite songs.|
|1967–1969||1–10 points||Ten jury members per country had ten points to give to their favourite songs.|
|1970||1–10 points||All countries had ten jury members that had ten points to award to their favourite songs. A tie break round was introduced if needed.|
|1971–1973||2–10 points||Two jury members (one aged between 16 to 25 and the other aged 25 to 55 years old) had to rate every song between one to five points.|
|1974||1–10 points||All countries had ten jury members that had ten points to award to their favourite songs.|
|1975–1996||12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 points||All countries had at least eleven jury members (later rising to sixteen) that would award points to their top ten songs.|
|1997||Twenty countries had jury members and five countries used televote to decide which songs would get points.|
|1998–2000||All countries should use telephone voting to decide which songs would receive points. In exceptional circumstances (e.g. weak telephone system) where televoting was not possible at all, a jury was used.|
|2001–2002||Every broadcaster was free to make a choice between the full televoting system and the mixed 50–50 system to decide which songs would receive points. In exceptional circumstances where televoting was not possible, only a jury was used.|
|2003||All countries should use telephone/SMS voting to decide which songs would receive points. In exceptional circumstances where televoting was not possible at all, only a jury was used.|
|2004–2008||All countries used televoting and/or SMS-voting and to decide which songs would receive points.[note 1]|
|2009–2012||All countries used televoting and/or SMS-voting (50%) and five-member juries (50%), apart from San Marino which is 100% jury due to country size. This is so called jury–televote 50/50.[note 2] The two parts of the vote were combined by awarding 1-12 points to the top ten in each discipline, then combining the scores. Where two songs were tied, the televote score took precedence.|
|2013–present||The same as in 2009-2012, except jury and televote are combined differently. The jurors and televoting each rank all the competing entries, rather than just their top ten. The scores are then added together and in the event of a tie, the televote score takes precedence.|
- Back-up juries are used by each country (with eight members) in the event of a televoting failure.
- In the event of a televoting failure, only a jury is used by that country; in the event of a jury failure, only televoting is used by that country.
The most-used voting system other than the current one was that used for the 1969 contest. This system had been used between 1957 and 1961, and later between 1967 and 1969. Ten jurors in each country each gave a single vote to their favourite song. In 1969 this resulted in four countries tying for first place (UK, Netherlands, France, and Spain), and there was no tie-break procedure. A "second round" voting in the event of a tie was introduced to this system in 1970.
Between 1962 and 1966, a voting system closer to the current system was used. In 1962 each country awarded its top three one, two and three points; in 1963 the top five were awarded one, two, three, four and five points, and from 1964 until 1966, each country awarded its top three one, three and five points. With the latter system, there was an additional rule that each country could choose not to give points to three countries, but award points to two countries (giving one a three and the other a six). In 1965 Belgium awarded the United Kingdom six, and Italy three points. The system also permitted a country to give a single award of 9 points, but it never happened.
The 1971, 1972, and 1973 contests saw the jurors "in vision" for the first time. Each country was represented by two jurors - one older than 25 and one younger, with at least ten years' difference in their ages. Each juror gave a minimum of one point and a maximum of five points for each song. In 1974 the previous system of ten jurors was used, and the following year the current system was introduced. Spokespeople were next seen on screen in 1994 by satellite link up to the venue.
The 2004 contest was the first time there would be a semi final at the Eurovision Song Contest, but this saw a slight change in the way of voting compared to previous years. For the first time, countries that did not qualify from the Semi Final would still be allowed to cast votes in the Grand Final. This resulted in Ukraine's Ruslana coming first with a record 280 points. If the voting had been the same as the voting conducted between 1956 to 2003, where only finalist countries could vote, then Serbia and Montenegro's Željko Joksimović would have won the 2004 contest with 190 points – with a 15-point lead over second place Ruslana, who would have scored 175 points. To date, non-qualifying countries are still allowed to vote in the Grand Final.
An exceptional occurrence arose in 2006 when, despite not taking part in the 2006 contest due to a scandal in the selection process, Serbia and Montenegro retained voting rights for the contest and voted in both the Semi Final and Grand Final.
With the introduction of two semi-finals in 2008 a new method of selecting finalists was created. The top nine songs ranked by televote qualified, along with one song selected by the back-up juries. This method in most cases meant that the tenth song in the televote placing failed to qualify, and attracted some criticism, especially from Macedonia, who in both years placed 10th in the televote. In 2010, the system used in the 2009 final, where the winner is selected by a combination of televoting and jury votes from each country, was also used to select the qualifying semi-finalists.
Each participating country had their own national jury, which consisted of five professional members of the music industry. The five jury members from each country are appointed by each broadcaster.
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