The finest minds in the North have been considering the slippery question: is Eurovision a music contest, or a popular vote?
If France sends out a visually baffling and musically repugnant offering at Eurovision, you can be certain of one thing: Belgium will give it ’12 points’. Norway gives its points to Sweden, who give their to Denmark, who give theirs to Norway in a beautiful metaphor of Nordic social democratic principles. The UK votes for Ireland. Ireland doesn’t vote for the UK. Australia gets loads of points without even being in Europe (say nothing of Israel winning with a dancing chicken song).
Eurovision is back tonight, and with it feverish predictions of 1,000 years of European politics and history all playing out through a complicated voting system. But, says RUG research, the effects of ‘tactical voting’ aren’t as strong as lots of (British) people fear.
Although there has been criticism of alleged favoritism since the beginning of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956, Economic Geographer Felix Pot believes that tactical voting is rarely decisive in the allocation of points.
Pot looked at the past 45 editions of the song contest, mapped out which countries can count on points from sympathizing nations and which countries cannot. Countries in the Caucasus and the Balkans benefit the most from political voting, but it also happens in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands was found to clearly give more votes to its neighbouring countries Belgium and Germany. But countries such as Turkey and Armenia can also count on many Dutch votes.
(Luckily for people in the Netherlands) “You can’t argue about taste, of course. But I corrected the average score of a song for the structural advantage or disadvantage by certain countries,” Pot says. “To measure the quality of a Greek entry, for example, the points of Cyprus are not taken into account.”
The Netherlands is hosting this year’s Eurovision in Rotterdam having won the last edition (in 2019), and will be sending out Jeangu Macrooy to represent the country with his song ‘Birth of a New Age’.
The first semi-final of the contest will take place tonight, with a second semi-final on Thursday, and the grand final on the weekend. More information available via the Eurovision website.