Yesterday we shared some highlights of our recent conversation with EBU big dog Sietse Bakker. Today we move on from location and money to discuss allegations of fraud and transparency at Eurovision. You can listen to the full audio of our chat here, but we’ve pulled out the highlights below.

Stuffing the Ballot Box

Sietse first walked me through what has been brought to the EBU’s attention and explained that they investigated the allegations as best they could. Sietse was precise with his language. He did not claim there has not been fraud, but that they have been unable to find the evidence of fraud.

I asked if there has been any statistical analysis of the vote that suggests there have been fraudulent votes cast, even if you can’t show how. He replied that they do a lot of analysis of the voting but did not comment on whether things looked fishy to him.

As we all know, Malta routinelys gives Azerbaijan top points, despite the fact their nations have no apparent cultural affinities or historical connections. Sietse has a logical explanation for the voting. All nations are allowed to do PR, and Azerbaijan regularly invests resources into Malta. They sell their entry to the sunny island and their efforts can have a significant impact on the vote. Some may view that as a stretch, but it is certainly a fair argument.

Next he discussed the rumors of jury vote trading. He explain that there are safety checks in place. Jurors have means to report questionable behavior, and they have one on one interviews with EBU officials. He also encouraged those with evidence to come forward. He cannot tackle the problem without evidence it exists.

To Sietse’s credit, he went through all the major cases that have come up as part of the Eurovision 2013 voting scandal. He never claimed it didn’t happen, and consistently pleaded for someone with evidence to step forward. I don’t think this is a case of the EBU closing its eyes to the issue. But without evidence, they can’t do anything. And that is a very fair point – you don’t sanction countries on rumors.

Going forward they’ve taken a gigantic step toward eliminating fraud. Starting this year they will release all the votes, jury votes by juror, jury & televote totals by country, etc. This won’t stop vote fraud. This won’t identify how the fraud is accomplished. But it will easily and unequivocally identify if it is occurring and to who’s benefit. (They can’t do this for past years as they didn’t make that release a requirement of each country.)

Enron Auditing

Remember how Enron always got approval from their auditors? Eurovision uses PWC to audit every step of the voting process. I asked about the case of Italy where their jury clearly did not meet the requirements for a country’s jury. I asked if the PWC audit had any credibility when they missed something so easy & basic.

He discussed how it happened, that the paperwork comes in for a couple of jurors, then later for others. And it’s all on paper. So no one had a point where they looked at all the members, then verified the demographics of all of them matched the requirements. They are changing this to a system where each is entered electronically and the system will immediately verify the demographic requirements are all met.

Ok, good step. But it didn’t speak to the credibility of PWC. When I suggested they might want to consider a different auditor, he replied that most of their effort occurs on the day of the voting. And he then discussed in detail what they do observing the jury voting.

The bottom line is EBU is improving the system to avoid this problem in the future. But I think they’re comfortable with PWC and therefore continuing with an auditor who missed a clear and obvious problem. So I don’t put much credibility in the statement “this is all audited by PWC.”

Yesterday: Location & Money  ||  Tomorrow: The Voting System

David T contributed this report from Colorado. You can keep up-to-date on the latest Eurovision news and gossip by following the team on Twitter @wiwibloggs and by liking our Facebook page.

19 Comments
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ismail
ismail
7 years ago

I am an Azerbaijani living in Malta, my boyfriend is Maltese. I’ve just happened to read this thread. What’s wrong with you, Armenians? Why bring Malta (and politics, for that matter) into this? Malta is a lovely island; Maltese people are very nice, they don’t have a problem with anyone, and don’t suffer from the superiority complex. Wergie, it’s bad for your country to alienate people for absolutely NO reason…. Are you, like, 12?

Wergie
Wergie
7 years ago

Hey you fkwit, i love Malta and Maltese people and the rare piece of azershit or whatever you are can’t do anything to change it.. Remember that.

Wergie
Wergie
7 years ago

@guido kk1 listen you, backward creature, it is not armonians, imbecile, its the Armenians.
Last year Armenian entry was created in cooperation with Toni Iommi with an Armenian songwriter Vardan Zadoyan. You Azers have been BUYING ENTIRE production in Sweden since 2009 i mean ENTIERE= EVERYTHING you talentless piece of shit. I don’t know who the fk are you but you are surely not Maltese. Toni didn’t get payed, he didn’t asked for money, yes there are people in the world, unlike azers, who do things without asking money!

Sober
Sober
7 years ago

Omg

guido kk1
guido kk1
7 years ago

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8Nq8NXpDug

azeri-maltese cooperation! why envy and slander from low people?
if armonians themselves are such corruptible they think of others in a such way, funny:-)

guido kk1
guido kk1
7 years ago

@wergie you are big annoying idiot to impose on us your corruptible armonian thoughts about maltese-turkish friendship and relationship. it’s not for an armonian to teach us about our history, past, present and future. you are just pathetic armonian. what’s wrong to buy a song from sweden or a footballer from brazil? it’s trade and economics people prosperity are ensured this way. at least azeri pay for everything everywhere they don’t export bogus refugees and asylum seekers eternally like armonians, funny:-) last year did armonians pay to black sabbath from england for a song? no! because you are armonians are… Read more »

Rashad
Rashad
7 years ago

@Leon, I guess we’ve discussed that earlier. Everyone can make dozens of videos showing whatever they want. It’s not an evidence unless an official member of the Azerbaijani delegation appears in the video (which is not the case).

Heyy
Heyy
7 years ago

Jesus leave us Maltese people alone! Is there a problem if we love Azerbaijani entries? Each year our representatives go to Baku, and the Azeris come to Malta, and it seems that both our countries PR work is leaving positive results. Even after the ESC results, many maltese agree that Azerbaijan was the best country.

And by the way… we’re 420,000 people, not a dozen or so. And viewing rates are one of the highest each year…. so its quite hard to buy all those votes.

Alex
Alex
7 years ago

Given that the vote is fully open this year, it’d be interesting to see whether they throw out the results of countries where not enough people vote for the result to be (by their determination) “statistically valid,” as they did last year. I have a feeling those televoters would want their money back if their votes were simply ignored.

David Thielen
David Thielen
7 years ago

@Charles – I think what you’re saying is you dislike people voting for political reasons. And that,for political reasons you won’t vote for Eastern Bloc acts. Is that correct?

Charles
Charles
7 years ago

For as long as the right song wins I just don’t care about all this drama … and I still have hopes that after Sweden and Denmark the pattern remains for a third time in a row .. preventing countries like Azerbaijan or Ukraine and any other desperate former soviet country to win and achieve public mediatism for political promotional propaganda ..This is still a music contest . want to showcase your nation pride and patriotism? Find another platform … At the end of the day: each eurofan actually just wants ONE thing … see his or her country win… Read more »

guido kk1
guido kk1
7 years ago

i’m maltese we may give our votes for azerbaijan endless.what’s your problem? why jealousy and slander? azeri are stronger in music we enjoy their music tradition the
mix of eastern and western music. for maltese the strength of azerbaijan and turkey are priority what’s your problems?

we don’t like imperialists and beggars that’s all.

Matthew Hansson
Matthew Hansson
7 years ago

Since Malta is so small it wouldn’t take a lot of vote stuffing from Azerbaijan to give them lots of points. That being said San Marino is small and almost never gives points to Azerbaijan, it would be even easier for Azerbaijan to stuff the Sammirinese voting, yet that has obviously never happened there. Maybe it is just a good PR campaign?

David Thielen
7 years ago

@Alex – thank you

Alex
Alex
7 years ago

Awesome article, David.

Wergie
Wergie
7 years ago

Huge PR campaign in tiny Malta includes, also, some bribe action. Azeri are the most corrupt people from all ex Soviet ones. They are ready to sell her own mother just to achieve their goal. Malta! Lol, they have been buying politicians from Council of Europe, OSCE, UN etc. just to have desired antiarmenian resolutions and various positive reports, for example, about beautifully conducted presidential election in Azerbaijan which is purest democracy! Have you ever heard about Caviar Diplomacy? Well, let me introduce the Azeris! http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/24/azerbaijan-caviar-diplomacy-for-mps
Or just google ‘Caviar Diplomacy’
Malta! Ahahaha))

Leon
Leon
7 years ago

@Rashad maybe you can also explain the Lithuanian video?

Rashad
Rashad
7 years ago

I don’t really know why people are surprised of Malta giving high points to Azerbaijan. As it is mentioned in the post, there is a huge PR campaign in Malta done by the Azerbaijani delegation every year. And there is noticeable amount of fans of the Azerbaijani entries in Malta. I remember when Azerbaijan won in 2011, tens of Maltese fans were celebrating with us on Facebook.