The real winner of Eurovision 2012 is…er the actual winner, Sweden

Adrian Kavanagh, 30th May 2012

Who would have won the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest if the advantages helping some competing countries arising from traditional patterns of “friends and neighbours” voting and diaspora voting (or bloc voting) had no impact on this year’s result? This post attempts to tease this out by comparing the number of points won by each country in Saturday night’s final against the number of points that each country would have been predicted to receive based on the past patterns of voting of those countries that were voting in this year’s contest, as was outlined in an earlier post. In a similar analysis for last year’s final, it was found that Ireland would have been the country who would have won that year’s contest if friends and neighbours/diaspora voting had not had an impact. So which country would have “won” this year?

  Vote History Actual Votes Difference
17 SWEDEN 133 372 239
6 RUSSIA 139 259 120
3 ALBANIA 71 146 75
11 ESTONIA 52 120 68
19 SPAIN 32 97 65
20 GERMANY 47 110 63
24 SERBIA 159 214 55
8 CYPRUS 32 65 33
4 LITHUANIA 43 70 27
23 IRELAND 24 46 22
9 FRANCE 3 21 18
22 FYR MACEDONIA 68 71 3
26 MOLDOVA 78 81 3
21 MALTA 43 41 -2
1 UK 29 12 -17
7 ICELAND 70 49 -21
14 ROMANIA 100 71 -29
18 TURKEY 151 112 -39
2 HUNGARY 66 19 -47
13 AZERBAIJAN 220 150 -70
15 DENMARK 96 21 -75
10 ITALY 180 101 -79
5 BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA 136 55 -81
25 UKRAINE 160 65 -95
12 NORWAY 116 7 -109
16 GREECE 188 64 -124

Table 1: Comparison between points won by countries in Eurovision 2012 final and predicted points based on past voting trends of countries voting in the final

The analysis, as covered in the figures in Table 1, shows that the “real winner” of Eurovision was the actual winners, Sweden! 

The past voting history analysis predicted that Sweden would have won 133 points if previous patterns of “friends and neighbours” voting and diaspora voting had been exactly replicated in the final, but with Sweden winning the contest with a huge 372 points tally the analysis shows that Sweden won 239 points more than the predicted level, a level that was well in excess of any of the other competing finalists. The country that saw the next largest difference between their actual points tally and their predicted points tally was second placed Russia, with a 120 point difference between the 259 points won by Russia in the final and the 139 points tally predicted by the past voting analysis. The third highest country in this regard was Albania, a country which achieved their best ever Eurovision result in the 2012 Final – with a 75 point difference between the 146 points won by Russia in the final and the 75 points tally predicted by the past voting analysis model. With many of the countries finishing in the Top 10 in the final also ranking amongst the Top 10 in terms of the difference between their actual Eurovision points and the predicted points estimates for these, this analysis would seem to suggest that bloc voting actually had less of an impact on the overall results that it did in last year’s contest; when the impact of past voting trends is stripped away the analysis suggest the final result would not have been overtly different. The only countries that did not make the Top 10 in Saturday night’s final which rank amongst the ten highest countries in this analysis are Cyprus (33 points difference between 65 points won in the final and 32 points predicted by the past voting analysis),  Lithuania (27 points difference between 70 points won in the final and 43 points predicted by the past voting analysis) and Ireland (22 points difference between 46 points won in the final and 24 points predicted by the past voting analysis).  

At the other end of the scale, a number of countries which have been relatively successful in recent Eurovision contests were seen to perform decidedly less well in the Final than the would have been expected based on the level of points predicted for these countries based on the past voting patterns of countries voting in the Final. Greece, which had finished in the Top 10 in every final between 2004 and 2011 but finished in 17th place in the 2012 Final, are seen to have experienced the biggest drop relative to their predicted points level, with a -124 points difference between the 64 points won by Greece in the final and the 188 points estimate that was predicted for Greece on the basis of past voting analysis. Other countries experiencing a significant drop in their actual points tally relative to the levels predicted for them on the basis of past “friends and neighbours” and diaspora influenced voting patterns included Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Norway.

  Vote History Actual Votes Difference
5 Albania 66 146 80
18 Ireland  41 92 51
12 Cyprus 43 91 48
14 Russia  111 152 41
7 Switzerland  21 45 24
17 Moldova  86 100 14
11 San Marino 18 31 13
1 Montengro 11 20 9
6 Romania  123 120 -3
2 Iceland  87 75 -12
16 Austria 22 8 -14
9 Finland 65 41 -24
13 Denmark 93 63 -30
8 Belgium 49 16 -33
15 Hungary 89 52 -37
4 Latvia 55 17 -38
3 Greece 156 116 -40
10 Israel 78 33 -45

Table 2: Comparison between points won by countries in Eurovision 2012 Semi Final 1 and predicted points based on past voting trends of countries voting in that semi final

A similar analysis of voting in Semi Final 1 shows that Albania was the country experiencing the biggest improvement when their actual points tally in this semi final is compared with the level that they were predicted to win based on the previous voting patterns of the countries that were voting in that semi final (the countries competing in Semi Final 1, as well as Italy, Spain and Azerbaijan).  Ireland ranks second in this list  with a 51 point improvement noted in a comparison between their actual points tally and the level of points that they would have predicted to win based on analysis of the past voting patterns of countries voting in that semi final, with relatively similar levels of improvement noted for Cyprus and Russia, the countries that rank just below Ireland based on the figures presented in Table 2. Israel was the country in this semi final experiencing the biggest drop in terms of how their actual semi final points tally compared with the level predicted based on the past voting analysis. It is interesting to note that the past voting analysis for this semi final correctly predicted eight of the qualifiers, with only Israel and Finland missing out on the Final amongst the Top 10 ranked countries based on this analysis, with these countries being replaced in the actual Top 10 by Cyprus and Ireland.

  Vote History Actual Votes Difference
11 Sweden 107 181 74
18 Lithuania 38 104 66
14 Estonia 57 100 43
1 Serbia 119 159 40
6 Portugal 21 39 18
4 Malta 63 70 7
3 The Netherlands 32 35 3
2 FYR Macedonia 53 53 0
8 Bulgaria 47 45 -2
5 Belarus  42 35 -7
15 Slovakia 31 22 -9
9 Slovenia 41 31 -10
13 Turkey 100 80 -20
17 Bosnia and Herzegovina 104 77 -27
12 Georgia 74 36 -38
10 Croatia 82 42 -40
16 Norway 88 45 -43
7 Ukraine 119 64 -55

Table 3: Comparison between points won by countries in Eurovision 2012 Semi Final 2 and predicted points based on past voting trends of countries voting in that semi final

A similar analysis of voting in Semi Final 2 shows that, in addition to comfortably winning this semi final, Sweden was the country experiencing the biggest improvement when their actual points tally in this semi final is compared with the level that they were predicted to win based on the previous voting patterns of the countries that were voting in that semi final (the countries competing in Semi Final 2, as well as the United Kingdom, Germany and France).   Lithuania ranks second in this list and not too far behind Sweden with a 66 point improvement noted in a comparison between their actual points tally and the level of points that they would have predicted to win based on analysis of the past voting patterns of countries voting in that semi final. The next highest ranked countries in Table 3, with relatively similar levels of improvement noted, are Estonia and Serbia. Ukraine was the country in this semi final experiencing the biggest drop in terms of how their actual semi final points tally compared with the level predicted based on the past voting analysis, with relatively similar drops in terms of the points comparisons noted for Norway, Georgia and Croatia. It is interesting to note that the past voting analysis was quite accurate in its estimation of the points tallies for some of the countries contesting this semi final, correctly predicting Macedonia’s points tally and coming within ten points (or less) of correctly predicting the actual points received by six other countries in this semi final. It is interesting to note that the past voting analysis for this semi final correctly predicted eight of the qualifiers, with only Croatia and Georgia missing out on the Final amongst the Top 10 ranked countries based on this analysis, with these countries being replaced in the actual Top 10 by Lithuania, as well as FYR Macedonia (which would have missed out on the final by just 4 points based on the past voting analysis model). The impacts of Armenia’s withdrawal from the contest would have been no doubt felt in this semi final given the relatively narrow margin separating Norway, the tenth placed qualifier from this semi final, and the non-qualifiers with 11th placed Bulgaria having finished level on points with Norway and with only ten points separating Norway from 15th/16th placed The Netherlands and Belarus. A strong vote from Armenia could well have propelled one, or more, of the non-qualifers ahead of Norway, and into the final, or even ahead of 9th placed Macedonia (in the case of Croatia and Bulgaria).  

Draw position does not seem to have had an overtly strong impact here. While countries enjoying late draw positions in the different contests rank highly in Tables 1, 2 and 3, there are also a number of countries that had early draw positions in similar parts of these tables. The impact of being drawn last in the semi final is readily evident however, with both Ireland and Lithuania being seen to have had strongly improved on their predicted points tallies in these contests and went on to qualify for the final despite the past voting analysis suggestign that these countries would both be non-qualifiers.

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