Ireland and 2011 Eurovision Semi Final – Where oh where will the points come from?

Adrian Kavanagh, 11 May 2011

It’s the day after the first Eurovision semi final and a number of the stronger countries over the past decade have failed to make it to the final, most notably Armenia and Turkey, but also Norway, Portugal, Albania and Croatia. The die was probably cast for Armenia and Turkey some months back when the semi final draw allocations meant that countries with large Armenian and Turkish diaspora, such as Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, would not be voting in their semi final. So what about Ireland ahead of tonight’s key dress rehearsal (which the juries will be voting on) and tomorrow night’s show ? The draw augurs poorly for us in that some of our stronger supporters in Eurovision over the past decade and a half – most notably our good neighbours, the UK, but also countries such as Turkey, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway and Switzerland – will not get the chance to cast votes for us in this semi final. So where oh where can we hope to pick up points? In this post I will look at the likelihood of winning points from each of the 21 other countries that will be voting in our semi final – the other semi finalists and also the three “Big 5” countries allocated a vote for this semi final. I will solely focus on voting patterns since the introduction of “full-blown” televoting in 1998.

1. Bosnia and Herzegovina: Have had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on ten occasions from 1998 onwards but have only given us a total of 6 points (out of a maximum possible tally of 120 points) over the years. Not good. However, the acts that have got points from Bosnia – Donna and Joe McCaul (4) and Dustin (2) – suggest that Jedward might have some appeal for the Bosnian televoters who seem to prefer our quirkier uptempo entries.

2. Austria: With an on-off relationship with Eurovision over the past decade or so culminating in a break from the contest of four years ahead of this year’s contest, Austria has only had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on six occasions from 1998 onwards but have only given us a total of 4 points (out of a maximum of 72) over these years. Not good. Only one Irish song – Millenium of Love in 2000 – has had any interest for the Austrian televoters.

3. Netherlands: Our uncanny knack of getting drawn in the same semi final as the Dutch means that the Netherlands have had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on fourteen occasions and have only given us a total of 23 points (out of a maximum of 164) over the 1998-2010 period. Not great. The Dutch televoters tend to like traditional Irish ballads, rewarding Eamonn Toal, Brian Kennedy and Niamh Kavanagh, who got 8 points from the Netherlands in last year’s semi final (but then no points in the final).

4. Belgium: Have had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on eleven occasions but have only given us a total of 12 points (out of a maximum of 132) over the 1998-2010 period. Not good at all. Eamonn Toal (2000)and Dustin the Turkey (2008SF) both got 4 points from Belgium.

5. Slovakia: Their long absence from the contest during the 200os means that the Slovaks have had few opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals since 1998 – just three occasions in all, in which they have given us a sum total of 1 point (out of a maximum of 36). Not good!!! You have to go back to Dawn in 1998 for the lucky recipient of that one point from Slovakia.

6. Ukraine: Ukraine entered the contest in 2003 and since then have had nine opportunities to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals and final, in which they have given us a sum total of 3 points (out of a maximum of 108). Definitely not good!!! Mickey Joe Harte got one point from Ukraine in 2003 and Brian Kennedy got two points from Ukraine in the 2006 final.

7. Moldova: Have had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on seven occasions but have only given us a total of 3 points (out of a maximum of 84) over the years. Not good. Our best ever vote from Moldova came in the 2009 semi final when Sinead Mulvey got 2 points off the Moldovan televoters.

8. Sweden: Ireland has been relatively generous to Sweden in terms of Eurovision points, but the Swedes have not been as generous in return. Sweden has had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on eleven occasions but have only given us a total of 11 points (out of a maximum of 132) over the years. Not good. Brian Kennedy accounts for the bulk of the Swedish points, including 1 point in the 2006 semi final and 5 points in the 2006 final.

9. Cyprus: We’re both islands, so there should be a reciprocal vote between us as part of an islands voting bloc? Not really, although our vote tally from Cyrpus is not as bad as from some of the other countries involved in the voting for Semi Final 2. Cyrpus has had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on twelve occasionsand have given us a total of 15 points (out of a maximum of 144) over the years. Not good but even worse when you consider that we’ve got only one point off Cyprus since 2003 with most of the Cyprus points having been won by Eamonn Toal (7) in 2000 and Mickey Joe Harte (7) in 2003.

10. Bulgaria: Relatively new Eurovision contestants, having only joined the contest back in 2005, but do seem to end up in Ireland’s semi final on a fairly regular basis. Bulgaria has had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals onsox occasions but have only given us a total of 1 point (out of a maximum of 72) over these years, that sole Bulgarian point being awarded to Donna and Joe McCaul in Bulgaria’s 2005 debut year.

11. FYR Macedonia: Ireland has never awarded the Macedonians a point in any Eurovision contest so we can’t really complain at the fact that we’ve got little in the way of Eurovision support from them. As we’ve tended to avoid each other in semi final draws up to now, the Macedonians have had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on only eight occasions but have only given us a total of 7 points (out of a maximum of 84) with all of those points having been awarded to Dawn way back in 1998. Doesn’t bode well for much points from this country on Thursday night.

12. Israel: Prior to 1998, Israel statistically was the country least likely to award Eurovision points, but as times got hard for Ireland in the late 1990s and 2000s Israel have become a more generous source of Eurovision relative to other countries’ generosity levels. Israel have had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on thirteen occasions and have given us a total of 19 points (out of a maximum of 132) over the 1998-2010 period. Could be worse but still not great. Our best vote tally from Israel came in last year’s final when Niamh Kavanagh got 6 points from Israel (only the UK and Switzerland were more/as generous) in a contest where the Irish vote was very much dominated by points coming from the “old Eurovision” states.

13. Slovenia: During the jury voting era of the 1990s, Slovenia was one of Ireland’s most ardent supporters in Eurovision, but since then? Well, we do better in terms of winning points off Slovenia than we do for a lot of other Eurovision countries but we’re no longer winning douze points from Slovenia on a regular basis. The Slovenes had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on thirteeen occasions over the 1998-2010 period and have given us a total of 14 points (out of a maximum of 132). That’s not a great tally by any means. Niamh Kavanagh got 2 points from Slovenia in last year’s semi final (but no points in the final), as did Sinead Mulvey in the 2009 semi final, while Mickey Joe Harte (2003) and Brian Kennedy (2006 sf) got 3 points, but you have to go back to Dawn (1998) for the act that has won the most points (4) off Slovenia during this period.

14. Romania: Given the points records for the countries listed prior to now, Ireland at this stage is sorely needing a Eurovision friend. As it stands, Romania is probably one of our “better friends” in this semi final. Romania has had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on ten occasions over the 1998-2010 period and have given us a total of 21 points (out of a maximum of 120). That’s not a great tally by any means. Dawn got 8 points from Romania in 1998, but since then our best votes from Romania have come in semi finals – 5 points (Donna and Joe McCaul) in 2005 and 4 points (Niamh Kavanagh) in 2010.

15. Estonia: Ah bless Estonia, as part of the Nordic voting bloc that Ireland finds itself in the Estonians have proven to be relatively generous to us in our fallow Eurovision period. Estonia has had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on thirteeen occasions over the 1998-2010 period and have given us a total of 33 points (out of a maximum of 132). Points generously given and gratefully received! Thank you Taalin! Worryingly, the act that won the most points off Estonia was Dustin the Turkey (7), with Brian Kennedy getting 6 points from Estonia in both the semi final and final in 2006, while Sinead Mulvey got 4 points from Estonia in 2009. Estonia was one amongst a relatively small pool of countries to award Ireland points in last year’s final also.

16. Belarus: Oh dear! Belarus joined Eurovision in 2004, but Ireland have tended to avoid Belarus is semi final draws over recent years. This is a good thing! Belarus have had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on six occasions since 2004 and have given us a total of 0 points (out of a maximum of 72). Yes, we have never got a Eurovision point from Belarus. Their song this year is “I Love Belarus” but I’m not feeling the love right now…

17. Latvia: Following the heartbreak of Belarus, Ireland stands badly in need of friends. Fortunately, the last two countries in our semi final draw are amongst our friends in the Nordic bloc of Eurovision voting countries. Unfortunately Latvia has proved to be one of the least generous countries to Ireland amongst this bloc and the least generous of the three Baltic states in this bloc (oh to have Norway and Lithuania drawn in this semi final in place of Sweden and Latvia!) despite Latvia scoring well from Irish televoters in contests over the 2000s. That said, we have got some points off Riga in recent contests – not much but still some. Having joined Eurovision for the first time in 2000, Latvia has had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on nine occasions over the 1998-2010 period and have given us a total of 15 points (out of a maximum of 84). Not an amazing tally by any means, but admittedly better than a lot of other countries voting in this semi final. Most of these Latvian points have been won by Sinead Mulvey (5 in 2009) and Brian Kennedy (getting 4 points from Latvia in both the semi final and final in 2006).

18. Denmark: So as we move to the last of the other countries drawn to perform in our semi final, Ireland stands seriously bereft of friendly faces who may cast us a few Eurovision points! Fortunately Denmark (obviously still feeling bad about all the pillaging back in Viking times) are one of our better friends in terms of awarding us Eurovision points – albeit not to the same extent as the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Turkey, Lithuania and Malta but none of these countries have a vote in our semi final! We too respond in kind and Danish acts have scored well in terms of winning points from Ireland in recent Eurovision contests; indeed the analysis suggests that our douze points will be going to Denmark tonight. The Danes have had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on eleven occasions over the 1999-2010 period and have given us a total of 31 points (out of a maximum of 132). This is as good as it gets in this semi final. Sinead Mulvey got 10 points from Denmark in 2009 as she narrowly missed out in the Moscow semi final, Niamh Kavanagh got 6 points from Denmark in last year’s semi final but then got no points from Denmark in the final, with Brian Kennedy getting 5 points from Denmark  in both the semi final and final in 2006

So what of the Big 5 countries who have been drawn to vote in our final? Alas for Ireland, our most generous supporter by far amongst the Big 5 is the UK (who are indeed our most generous supporter out of all Eurovision countries) and they will not be voting in our semi final this year (last year the UK votes were crucial in getting Niamh Kavanagh out of her “group of death” semi final in Oslo). So who did we get?

France: Ah, mon triste cœur! Having let us down in the 1790s, the French have done likewise in terms of Eurovision votes over the 1998-2010 period. France has had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on twelve occasions over the 1998-2010 period but have only given us the miserly total of  6 points (out of a maximum of 144) over these years. C’est incroyable! The only Irish act to attract much in the way of attention from the French televoters was Eamonn Toal (4 points) way back in 2000.

Germany: Jedward may well be Lena’s favourite act in this year’s Eurovision, but the Germans have not shown a similar attitude to Irish Eurovision acts as their 2010 champion. We have done better in terms of getting votes from Germany than France, admittedly. but not by much alas. Germany has had the opportunity to vote for Ireland in Eurovision semi finals/finals on twelve occasions over the 1998-2010 period but have only given us a very disappointing total of  8 points (out of a maximum of 144) over these years. Admittedly Germany was one of relatively few countries to give us points (2) in last year’s final; the other points from Germany have gone to Dawn (2) in 1998 and Brian Kennedy (4) in the 2006 final.

Italy: Mamma Mia! Italy have been out of Eurovision since 1997 and so have not had the opportunity to cast a vote for Ireland during the televoting era. Cosa posso dire! The last time that Italy got a chance to vote for Ireland was in the 1997 contest in Dublin when the Italian jury awarded Marc Roberts 10 points. But would a quirky uptempo act such as Jedward hold similar appeal for the Italian jury as Marc Roberts’ gentle ballad did? And just what way will the Italian televoters vote? Alas these questions can only be answered dopo il concorso

If we looking at voting trends for all the countries performing in our semi final, we can get a sense of what the expected results would be based on the voting histories over the 1998-2010 period of the countries that will have a vote in this contest (although we cannot include Italy in this analysis).

If voting patterns in tomorrow night’s semi final were to exactly mirror these past voting histories then the result would be as follows: 1. Ukraine 128 points, 2. Bosnia and Herzegovina 110, 3. Sweden 94, 4. Denmark 90, 5. Romania 89, 6. Israel 82, 7. Estonia 81, 8. Latvia 80, 9. Moldova 71, 10. Belgium 68, 11. Bulgaria 64, 12. Belarus 60, 13. FYR Macedonia 48, 14. Cyprus 39,  15. Netherlands 30, 16. Slovenia 29, 17. Austria 24, 18. Ireland 18, 19. Slovakia 14.

*(A similar analysis for Semi Final 1 would have predicted the following result: 1. Greece 135, 2. Azerbaijan 115, 3. Norway 107, 4. Russia 103, 5. Serbia 102, 6j. Hungary 79, 6j. Armenia 79, 8. Turkey 72, 9. Iceland 70, 10. Georgia 68, 11. Albania 56, 12. Finland 50, 13. Malta 41, 14. Portugal 34, 15. Croatia 31, 16. Lithuania 29, 17. Poland 26, 18. Switzerland 14, 19. San Marino 4)

So what does this mean for us? It means that Jedward will have effectively to defy past Eurovision voting history (or rather voting trends as established during the televoting era) if they are to make it to the final. Indeed the challenge faced in getting out of this semi final with so few friendly countries involved is such that it might be easier for them to get a good result in the actual final than it might be for them to get out of this pool. That said, these averages are drawn across a range of years where the Irish entries were generally performing poorly and it is also worth noting that the favourable late draw will have an impact on Ireland’s overall result (as the chart below shows) as will the fact that so many of the stronger Eurovision countries in recent years were drawn in the first semi final (Greece, Serbia, Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Armenia).

Average vote by semi-final draw position, 2004-10

The similar analysis for Tuesday night’s first semi final, while predicting seven of the countries that qualified from this and also pointing to the relative vulnerability of  Armenia and especially Turkey given the combination of countries voting in that semi final, suggests that countries can defy past voting records to break through to the final. Past voting patterns would have suggested that Switzerland and Lithuania would have finished in the lower placings in the first semi final but both these countries succeeded in breaking through to the final.

Ultimately we are neither certain of qualification given the nature of the countries drawn to perform/vote in our semi final, nor are we without hopes, especially given our favourable draw position. It’s very much all to play for!

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4 Responses to “Ireland and 2011 Eurovision Semi Final – Where oh where will the points come from?”

  1. Ronan L Says:

    fantastic detailed analysis! Worth also checking out, though, Google’s Eurovision predictor, which has been good in previous years at predicting public votes from the volume of Google searches. That has Jedward clear overall favourites!

  2. EUROVISION Semi Finals 2, May 12, 2011 « Today's News Says:

    […] Ireland and 2011 Eurovision Semi Final – Where oh where will the … It's the day after the first Eurovision semi final and a number of the stronger …. Doesn't bode well for much points from this country on Thursday night. … adriankavanagh.wordpress.com/…/ireland-and-2011-eurovisio… […]

  3. Baku-hoo-hoo: Ireland and the 2012 Eurovision Semi Final draw – Why us? « Adrian Kavanagh's Blog Says:

    […] is obviously not good for Ireland, but it is worth noting that the analysis ahead of last year’s semi final portrayed Ireland as being in a much weaker position – the improvement in Ireland’s […]

  4. Who’s who in Ireland’s 2013 Eurovision semi final? AKA Can Ireland make it to the Final? « Adrian Kavanagh's Blog Says:

    […] most of the other countries competing in this semi -final. But the doomsday prognostications of 2011 and 2012 did not pan out and the Irish act did go on to make it to the final, so maybe the reverse […]

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