Shortly after the grand final, the EBU revealed that it had voided Montenegro’s jury vote for the final after consulting with PwC, the contest’s independent voting oveserver. A number of fans applauded the EBU for taking action against potential wrongdoing, which would undermine the fairness of the vote. The EBU did not reveal Montenegro’s jury vote following the show or the specific reason it was thrown out. Naturally big questions linger: Was there actually any wrongdoing on the part of the Montenegrin jury and if so what?
To help answer those questions we have obtained copies of each Montenegrin juror’s Eurovision ballot — filled out, signed and notarized — from Montenegro’s Head of Delegation Sabrija Vulic.
Montenegro’s cancelled jury result
Looking at the results, I do not see a clear case of fraud. Instead it seems that the EBU and PwC are confusing unlikely with impossible. Results can be unlikely, but in statistics unlikely events do sometimes happen.
Let’s dive in. Below we have plotted the results of the individual Montenegrin jurors. Their jury was made up of Senad Dresevic (composer and producer), Renata Perazic (professor and singer), Ilija Dapcevic (composer and artist), Darko Nikcevic (director of an electro-acoustic lab and a guitar player), and Alexsandra Vojvodic (music professor). If you plot all of their results as we do below, you see a pretty good spread in opinion. The individual rankings do not generally cluster, showing a variety of opinions on songs.
And now let’s compare this with the vote from Azerbaijan, which did not have its results thrown out. As you can see, the Azerbaijani votes tend to cluster. In fact, they rarely differ by a ranking of more than 3 and never by more than 6. It’s difficult to believe that is down to chance.
If the supposed crime is the jurors colluding, how on earth is Montenegro’s vote excluded while Azerbaijan’s is accepted? (More on the Azeri jury result here).
Now let’s look at the other issue with the Montenegro vote:
In the case of Slovenia and Italy (two pre-contest favourites), each of the jurors ranked the country in the same spot. With Serbia and Greece they all ranked the contestant within one spot of each other. And with Albania they all ranked the contestant within two spots of each other.
So, again, let’s compare this with the jury result of Azerbaijan, which was not thrown out.
There is much greater consistency here. We see the jurors ranked two countries exactly the same (Armenia and Germany), three countries within two rankings of each other (Norway, Cyprus, Greece), and five countries within three rankings of each other (France, United Kingdom, Austria, Spain, and Albania).
Again, here we have Azerbaijan showing much stronger potential collusion than Montenegro.
There are seven cases outside of Montenegro where all five jurors ranked songs identically.
So should the EBU void the jury votes from Austria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Germany, Moldova, and Romania? If all five jurors agreeing is grounds for voiding a result, then why weren’t those six countries treated in the same way as Montenegro. (Of course, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Romania would have to be voided every year as these results are rather recurrant and predictable).
In addition, in every case above the identical vote was for first or last place (Azerbaijan’s 25th place for Germany could be “last place” because their 26th place vote for Armenia is a given). But in the case of Montenegro it’s a matter of fourth and fifth place. What is the logic in colluding over fourth and fifth place results?
Looking at this I don’t see how Montenegro’s vote is more egregious than other countries, most especially Azerbaijan. But even beyond the suspicious results from Baku, I’m not sure Montenegro is any more out there than Austria or Germany. In fact, I’d call Montenegro’s vote a more accurate measure of the acts than either of those countries. Five jurors giving Latvia first is a lot more suspicious than five jurors giving Italy fifth.
Photo: Eurovision.tv (EBU)