Voting at the Eurovision Song Contest

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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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] Since 2008, the same tie-break rules now apply to ties for all places.[4]

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.[5][6]) 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[edit]

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. Since the introduction of the semi-final stage in 2004, this should be even rarer as upwards of 36 countries can vote in the Grand Final, and would mean that the song failed to make the top ten most popular songs in any country. However both Germany and Austria both failed to achieve any points from the 40 countries voting in the 2015 Contest.

Under the second-most-used scoring system, however (see below), jurors gave points individually and only to their single favourite song, a system which might be expected to result in songs regularly not being awarded any points. When in 1962 a new voting system was tried out, the first zero points in Eurovision were scored. The system was slightly changed in the following years, but again there were countries which didn't manage to score any points.

When it does happen, 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 points, 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:

Contest Country Artist Song
1962  Belgium Fud Leclerc "Ton nom"
 Spain Victor Balaguer "Llámame"
 Austria Eleonore Schwarz "Nur in der Wiener Luft"
 Netherlands De Spelbrekers "Katinka"
1963  Netherlands Annie Palmen "Een speeldoos"
 Norway Anita Thallaug "Solhverv"
 Finland Laila Halme "Muistojeni laulu"
 Sweden Monica Zetterlund "En gång i Stockholm"
1964  Germany Nora Nova "Man gewöhnt sich so schnell an das Schöne"
 Portugal António Calvário "Oração"
 Yugoslavia Sabahudin Kurt "Život je sklopio krug"
  Switzerland Anita Traversi "I miei pensieri"
1965  Spain Conchita Bautista "¡Qué bueno, qué bueno!"
 Germany Ulla Wiesner "Paradies, wo bist du?"
 Belgium Lize Marke "Als het weer lente is"
 Finland Viktor Klimenko "Aurinko laskee länteen"
1966  Monaco Tereza Kesovija "Bien plus fort"
 Italy Domenico Modugno "Dio, come ti amo"
1967   Switzerland Géraldine "Quel cœur vas-tu briser?"
1970  Luxembourg David Alexandre Winter "Je suis tombé du ciel"

Entries which received no points, since the introduction of the current scoring system in 1975 are as follows:

Contest Country Artist Song
1978  Norway Jahn Teigen "Mil etter mil"
1981  Norway Finn Kalvik "Aldri i livet"
1982  Finland Kojo "Nuku pommiin"
1983  Turkey Çetin Alp and The Short Waves "Opera"
 Spain Remedios Amaya "¿Quién maneja mi barca?"
1987  Turkey Seyyal Taner and Grup Locomotif "Şarkım Sevgi Üstüne"
1988  Austria Wilfried "Lisa Mona Lisa"
1989  Iceland Daníel Ágúst "Það sem enginn sér"
1991  Austria Thomas Forstner "Venedig im Regen"
1994  Lithuania Ovidijus Vyšniauskas "Lopšinė mylimai"
1997  Norway Tor Endresen "San Francisco"
 Portugal Célia Lawson "Antes do adeus"
1998   Switzerland Gunvor "Lass' ihn"
2003  United Kingdom Jemini "Cry Baby"[7]
2004 Semi-final   Switzerland Piero & The MusicStars "Celebrate"
2009 Semi-final 1  Czech Republic "Aven Romale"[8]
2015  Germany Ann Sophie "Black Smoke"
 Austria (host) The Makemakes "I Am Yours"

In his book Nul Points, comic writer Tim Moore interviews the first twelve of these performers (he wrote the book before 2009, and only counted artists who received no points in the main contest, thus ignoring semi-finalist Piero) to find out if their Eurovision score was the end of their music career or just the beginning.[9]

Since the creation of a semi-final in 2004[10] and two semi-finals in 2008,[11] more than thirty countries vote each night - even the countries eliminated or already qualified. Thus occurrences of scoring no points become rarer; it would require a song to place less than tenth in every country and 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 received no points.[12]

In the 2015 Grand Final, Germany's "Black Smoke" by Ann Sophie and host nation Austria's "I Am Yours" by The Makemakes both scored zero. This marks the first time that a host nation has ever finished with "nul points".

In 2003, following the UK's first zero score,[7] an online poll voted on the Zero pointers to date with Spain's Remedios Amaya (1983) winning the poll as the song that least deserved a zero. Austria's Wilfried from 1988 ended up last in the Poll taking the wooden spoon as the song that best deserved zero.[13] In 2012, even though it didn't score no points in the combined voting, France's "Echo (You and I)" by Anggun received no points from televoting.[14]

No entry in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest has ever received the infamous "nul points", however since 2005 every contestant has automatically been awarded 12 points to prevent the contestants scoring zero points, although ending with 12 points total is in essence the same as receiving zero.[15]

Regional bloc voting[edit]

Bloc voting in the Eurovision Song Contest from 2001 to 2005 according to Derek Gatherer (2006)[16]
  "The Pyrenean Axis" (Andorra and Spain)
  "The Partial Benelux" (Belgium and the Netherlands)
  "The Viking Empire" (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden)
  "The Warsaw Pact" (Poland, Russia and Ukraine)
  "The Balkan Bloc" (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey)

Statistical analysis of the results between 2001 and 2005 suggests the occurrence of regional bloc voting;[16] 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.[17] 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:[16]

  • Greece and Cyprus;
  • Turkey and Azerbaijan;
  • Ireland and the United Kingdom;
  • Austria, Germany and Switzerland;
  • The 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, 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.[18]

Voting systems[edit]

Year Points Voting system
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.[19]
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.[20][21][22]
20012002 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.[23][24]
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.[25]
2004–2008 All countries used televoting and/or SMS-voting and to decide which songs would receive points.[note 1]
2009–present All countries used televoting and/or SMS-voting (50%) and five-member juries (50%) to decide which songs would receive points apart from San Marino which is 100% jury due to country size. This is so called jury–televote 50/50.[note 2]
  1. ^ Back-up juries are used by each country (with eight members) in the event of a televoting failure.
  2. ^ 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.[26] 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.[1]
Each participating country had their own national jury, which consisted of five professional members of the music industry.[27] The five jury members from each country are appointed by each broadcaster. [28]


  1. ^ a b Bakker, Sietse (2009-10-11). "Exclusive: Juries also get 50% stake in Semi-Final result!". EBU. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  2. ^ Nick, Paton Walsh (2003-05-30). "Vote switch 'stole Tatu's Eurovision win'". The Guardian. 
  3. ^ "Public rules of the 60th Eurovision Song Contest" (PDF). European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  4. ^ "Eurovision 2008 Final". Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b "'Nul points' sparks Eurovision rejig". Broadcast. Retrieved 29 May 2003. 
  8. ^ name="czech 2009">Cameron, Rob. "Czechs pull out of Eurovision after three years and "nul points"". Radio Prague. Retrieved 23 July 2009. 
  9. ^ "Nul Points: Tim Moore: 9780099492979: Books". 
  10. ^ "Rules of the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest" (PDF). European Broadcasting Union. MyLedbury. 
  11. ^ "Eurovision: 2 semi finals confirmed!". Esctoday. Archived from the original on 25 June 2007. Retrieved 25 June 2007. 
  12. ^ Cameron, Rob. "Czechs pull out of Eurovision after three years and "nul points"". Radio Prague. Retrieved 23 July 2009. 
  13. ^ "The BIG Zero". 
  14. ^ Siim, Jarmo. "Eurovision 2012 split jury-televote results revealed". Eurovision. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "'Your votes please: the spokespersons'". ESC Today. 26 November 2005. Retrieved 10 June 2009. 
  16. ^ a b c Derek Gatherer (2005-09-20). "Comparison of Eurovision Song Contest Simulation with Actual Results Reveals Shifting Patterns of Collusive Voting Alliances.". Retrieved 2007-05-14. 
  17. ^ Victor Ginsburgh, Abdul Noury (October 2006). "The Eurovision Song Contest:: Is Voting Political or Cultural?" (PDF). 
  18. ^ Bakker, Sietse. "Eurovision TV Director responds to allegations on voting". Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  19. ^ "Eurovision 1997". Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  20. ^ "Eurovision history". Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  21. ^ "Rules of Eurovision Song Contest 1999" (PDF). Myledbury. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  22. ^ "Rules of Eurovision Song Contest 2000" (PDF). Myledbury. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  23. ^ "Rules of Eurovision Song Contest 2001" (PDF). myledbury. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  24. ^ "Rules of Eurovision Song Contest 2002" (PDF). Myledbury. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  25. ^ "Rules of Eurovision Song Contest 2003" (PDF). myledbury. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  26. ^ Viniker, Barry (2009-05-20). "FYR Macedonia threatens Eurovision withdrawal". ESCToday. Retrieved 24 January 2010. 
  27. ^ Bakker, Sietse (22 January 2015). "EBU restores televoting window as from 2012". European Broadcasting Union. Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  28. ^ read 2015-05-20