The latest Eurovision voting scandal does not involve allegations of undercover operatives in former Soviet countries. Instead it involves robots buying votes for singers at Melodifestivalen, Sweden’s beloved national seleciton for Eurovision.
P4 Sjuhärad, a program broadcast on Sveriges Radio, has seen footage which shows a computer casting votes for an unnamed Melodifestivalen contestant.
Journalists from the program spoke with a man in Western Sweden who designed the program, which can cast several hundred votes per minute.
The man, who is remaining anonymous, told the journalists that he wanted to demonstrate cheating was possible. And while he was motivated by the muckraker spirit, he didn’t mind pocketing a few kroner in the process.
One contestant from a recent contest paid him an undisclosed sum in exchange for 2,500 votes.
That amount of votes would have been enough to steal victory from Robin Stjernberg in the 2013 final.
The news has subsequently made its way into Aftonbladet, Sweden’s largest newspaper, and has the Twitter hastag #melfestrobotgate. It’s no wonder that Christer Björkman, the executive producer in charge of Melodifestivalen, has spoken out.
“It does not conflict with any contest rules, but there is something called ethics too,” he says . “And it’s up to each individual to decide what is ethically correct or not.”
Who do you think the unnamed contestant is? In the wake of the Eurovision 2013 voting scandal, does this further undermine the Eurovision franchise at large, or just Melodifestivalen in particular? Let us know in the comments box below!
Update at 1400 GMT: SVT has announced new rules effective immediately that ban the use of automated voting at #melfest. During a hastily scheduled press conference, SVT’s project manager Maria Ilstedt explained why SVT is acting. “It is important that this competition is fair play,” she said. “We should be able to trust each other and that the Swedish people vote for these people.”
Furthermore, all Melodifestivalen-related betting has been called off in Sweden. Organizers suspect that vote-rigging isn’t merely about helping a contestant through, but also about helping certain people make lots of money off of certain acts advancing.
Useful links about the #melfest voting scandal
- READ: Advanced cheating at the contest (P4 Sjuhärad)
- READ: So, they buy votes in the Eurovision Song Contest (Aftonbladet)
- READ: “You want to believe that people are good” (SVT)
- READ: Melodifestivalen Gambling ends (SVT)