Eurovision may be a battle of songs, but it is also a game of numbers. Sadly for Australia’s Dami Im, changes to the rules this year mean she lost out on the title she would have won if producers had utilised last year’s voting system.
Beginning in 2009, Eurovision implemented a split 50-50 voting system, with equal weight between juries and televoters. But that 50-50 relationship hasn’t always been that equal.
From 2009 to 2012, the voting system went as follows. The jury would award 1 to 12 points to its top songs. The televoters would then generate their 1 to 12 points. Officials would combine the points and the top 10 countries would then be awarded the final 1 to 12 points presented to you during the voting segment.
From 2013 to 2015, rankings replaced scores. The jury would give its ranking of all the finalists. And the televoting would generate a second ranking. The rankings would then be combined. The highest 10 rankings would then be awarded the final 1 to 12 points presented to you. This concept is still controversial, because rankings may be prone to significant skewing. For example, if a country was ranked third by the jury and 20th by televoters, that country would likely get no points.
The new system adopted by SVT and Eurovision eliminates the jury cancelling out the televoting and vice versa. Eurovision hosts Måns Zelmerlöw and Petra Mede repeatedly said that the voting system has not changed, just the presentation. This statement really isn’t true, as you can see below when we analyze the 2016 results, and then recalculate them under the 2015 system.
Australia wins with 320 points, with Ukraine 41 points behind at 279 points and Russia at 240 points. Poland drops from 8th to 19th, Israel drops from 14th to 21st, and Malta would plummet from 12th to 24th.
Why is this the case? Juries ranked Poland low across the board, and televoters ranked Poland high across the board. This was the complete opposite with Malta and Israel, both of whom benefitted from the juries.
Again, when juries and televoters are in complete disagreement over a song, that song likely gets no points under the 2013-2015 system.
This new system would not have impacted the results for 2013 or 2014, as both Denmark (2013) and Austria (2014) won with the juries and televoters. In 2015, Sweden would still have won with 642 points, with Italy placing second with 550 points.
Prior to Saturday many pundits and fans accused Swedish producers of positioning Australia for an unprecedented win to make the 2016 contest more historic. Ironically, it is this voting system change that pipped Australia at the post, resulting in Ukraine’s marginal win. Nonetheless, Eurovision’s new voting system is a step in making the system more fair, and the presentation of the voting results much more tense and exciting. All in all, this made for better television. Now onwards to Kyiv!