Ireland’s prospects with Eurovision jury voting and televoting, 2010 and 2011

Adrian Kavanagh, 26th May 2011

The return of juries in the late 2000s as part of a new 50-50 voting system combining the votes of televoters and professional juries was generally viewed as a positive development by Ireland, espeically given our run of successes in the 1980s and especially the 1990s during the jury voting era and our abysmal run of results for most of the televoting era in the late 1990s and 2000s. This definitely proved to be the case in 2010 when jury votes were needed to ensure Niamh Kavanagh qualify for that year’s final but the advantage offered by jury voting proved to be less clear for Ireland in the 2011 contest.

The 50-50 televote/jury vote system was introduced for the 2009 Final but there are no Irish vote details from this as Sinead Mulvey narrowly missed out on qualifying for the final based on the semi final televote.

In 2010 Niamh qualified from the “group of death” second semi-final in joint 9th place (remember 10 countries qualify from each of the semi finals) with 67 points, just 5 points ahead of 11th placed Swedish entry, which missed out on the Final. Has the contest being decided purely on the basis of televoting (as was the case in all previous semi finals), Niamh would have missed out on the Final, finishing in 13th place with 43 points, and ten points behind the country that would have finished in 10th place based on the televote, Cyprus. By contrast, in the jury vote for this semi final (which was won by Georgia’s Sofie Nizharadze), Niamh finished in a strong 5th place with 84 points and ultimately this jury vote proved crucial in terms of ensuring Niamh made it to the Final. In the Final itself, Niamh finished with a disappointing 23rd placing with 25 points. Based on televoting votes alone, Niamh would have finished in 24th position (just ahead of the UK on 7 points) with just 15 points (12 of which would have come from the UK televote, based on figures released from the BBC). By contrast, Niamh finished in a more solid 16th position in the jury vote with 62 points.

Obviously the jury vote helped Ireland in 2010, but the impact of jury voting on Irish hopes in 2011 proved to be less obvious. Indeed, had the decision on which countries qualified from the semi finals in 2011 been based solely on jury voting, Jedward would have come perilously close to missing out on the Final. In the second semi-final, Ireland finished in 8th place with 68 points, with a comfortable (enough!) 15 point margin separating Jedward from 11th-placed Belgium. However, Ireland finished in 10th place based on the jury vote for this semi final (which was won by Slovenia’s Maja Keuc) with 66 points, just one point ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the country ranked in 11th place by the jury vote. In the semi-final televote, Ireland were ranked decidedly more favourably, finishing in 6th place with 78 points, with 16 points to spare over Austria, the country ranked in 11th place by the televote.  So Ireland would have qualified from the semi-final based if voting had been solely based on either televoting or the jury vote, but the margin between success and failure would have been very tight in a jury vote.

Ironically in the Final, Jedward proved to be more popular with the juries rather than the televoters. (Keith Mills on the All Kinds of Everything blog suggests that draw positions had a significant role to play here, with Ireland’s stronger televote in the semi-final relative to the final explained by the very attractive last position draw in the semi-final and the statistically unfavourable early 6th draw position in the Final.) Based on the combined (and official vote), Jedward finished in 8th place in the Final with 119 points. Based on televotes, Jedward would have won slightly fewer points (101) and would have finished in 10th place (albeit just ahead of Italy, whose huge jury vote propelled them to a 2nd place overall finish). The juries however ranked Jedward as the 6th best of the finalists, albeit awarding them exactly the same amount of points (119) as they won in the combined/official vote. Interestingly, this would have made them the most popular of the uptempo acts amongst the voting juries, winning 13 more jury points than Sweden (who ultimately finished in 3rd place).

Figures released by the BBC on the split between the UK’s televoting and jury voting in both the semi final and final shows that Ireland won the UK televote, but was ranked in 3rd place behind Switzerland and Italy in the jury vote. Nevertheless combining the UK Final jury votes and televotes saw Ireland get the much cherished douze points from the UK.

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