Who will make it to the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 Final? Predictions for the Semi Final contests based on past voting history

Adrian Kavanagh, 26th January 2015

As I used this model to successfully predict the Azerbaijan win at the 2011 contest and also Denmark’s win in 2013,  I am going to use this to tease out who the likely qualifiers will be now that we know the running order for the two 2014 Eurovision semi-finals. Those of you who have read The Eurovision Handbook 2013 will know that I used this same model to (sort of!) successfully predict most of the qualifiers for the 2013 final.

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In terms of working out who may win this year’s two Eurovision semi-finals/predicting which countries might qualify from these (and hopefully making a few bob in the process) various factors can be looked at, but the three most significant ones are the song quality (which I use Eurovision betting odds as a means of trying to quantify this), past voting histories (involving the different countries – the semi-finalists themselves and the three Big 5/Host countries drawn to vote in these – that will be voting in the different semi-finals) and position in the semi-final running order, as well as performance quality (both in the show itself and the previous night’s dress rehearsal/jury final, which is the contest that the Eurovision juries get to vote on). As only a crystal ball can predict the quality and impact of the different acts’ Eurovision performances at this stage and as betting odds and draw/running order position details are not yet known, this analysis will just focus on past voting history as a means of determining which countries are likely to qualify for the 2015 Eurovision Final.

During the televoting era, countries have shown a remarkable consistency in terms of the other countries that they vote for. This is probably most evident in the case of Greece and Cyprus’s tendency to award each other douze points in Eurovision contests, but similar trends can be observed for most other European contestants, including Ireland who showed a remarkable consistency during the “full-blown” televoting era in awarding its high Eurovision points to Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and the United Kingdom, especially from 2005 onwards. Such has been the consistency in Eurovision countries’ voting patterns during the 2000s that one can easily suggest the existence of different, geographically-based, voting blocs, which tend to award especially high numbers of points to certain countries (not necessarily always other bloc members) and from which bloc members can expect to attain their highest Eurovision points tallies. The impact of such “bloc voting” has been tempered in recent years by the reintroduction of a professional jury voting element as part of a 50-50 voting system involving televoting and jury votes. The changing rules determining how each country’s televotes and jury votes are combined to determine their Eurovision points allocations, as applied from 2013 onwards, has further diluted the impact of bloc voting, except in those cases where a country’s jury is more likely to vote geographically/politically than that country’s public vote is. But given that televoting still accounts for half of the total votes being awarded by countries, past voting histories of countries will give a strong indicator as to the destination of their Eurovision votes in the 2015 Semi Finals, and also suggests that some countries – due to an ability to score highly within one, or more, Eurovision voting blocs – will start these semi finals at somewhat of an advantage to countries such as the Czech Republic, San Marino, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro and Portugal, which have struggled to win Eurovision points over the past decade and half.

To analyse this, I calculated, and ranked, the average number of points awarded by all the countries voting in the semi-finals since the introduction of televoting in 1998 to the 33 different countries that are taking part in these two semi-finals, but only looking at the countries taking part in the semi-final that the different countries will be voting in. The countries voting in these semi finals includes all the countries competing in that semi final, as well as the three big 5/Host countries that have been drawn to vote in that semi final. In most cases, since the introduction of the 50-50 televotes/jury vote system, the official/combined points allocations of a country have been used, but in cases where televote details can be attained (as at the 2014 contests, due to a decision to release the split jury vote and televote details for those contests) then these televote details have been used. This ranking is then used to determine the semi-finalists that the different voting countries are likely to award their 12 points, 10 points…and 1 point to in these semi-finals, based on past voting histories. Hence, in the case of Semi Final 2, the Irish 12 points is expected to go to Lithuania (with an average points tally of 7.67 from Ireland to Lithuanian acts since the introduction of televoting in 1998), the semi-finalist that has enjoyed the highest average support level from Ireland in recent Eurovision contests. The next highest ranked country, Latvia (6.08 points average), would be predicted to win 10 points from Ireland, followed by the next highest ranked country, Poland (5.62 points average), which would be predicted to win 8 points from Ireland, and so on. The predicted points’ destinations for all the other 19 voting countries in the Semi Final 2 are estimated in a similar manner (with a similar process used for the Semi Final 1 voting countries). These points are then combined to calculate the overall predicted point tallies for the semi-finalists based solely on the past voting histories of the countries voting in these different contests.   

Based on this analysis, the following result would be predicted for Semi Final 1:

1. Russia 121, 2. Greece 117, 3. Armenia 107, 4. Serbia 102, 5. Romania 83, 6. Hungary 70, 7. Moldova 67, 8. The Netherlands 63, 9. Denmark 59, 10. Belgium 54, 11. Georgia 51, 12j. Belarus/Albania 50, 14. Finland 41, 15. Estonia 37, 16. FYR Macedonia 30

With so many of the Eastern European “big hitters” in this semi final, it is perhaps not surprising that these countries are seen as likely to figure amongst the leaders on the scoreboard for this semi final, based solely on this analysis of each voting country’s past Eurovision voting histories. Denmark, which has fared well in most recent contests and which won the contest in 2013, is, by contrast, seen to have a struggle here in getting out of this semi final, especially given that most of the Viking/Baltic Bloc countries are taking part/voting in the second semi final. 

Based on this analysis, the following result would be predicted for Semi Final 2:

1. Sweden 153, 2. Azerbaijan 136, 3. Norway 117, 4. Latvia 97, 5. Malta 93, 6. Iceland 91, 7. Israel 71, 8. Lithuania 70, 9. Ireland 69, 10. Poland 63, 11. Switzerland 57, 12. Cyprus 50, 13. Portugal 34, 14. San Marino 28, 15. Montengro 16, 16. Slovenia 16, 17. Czech Republic 0.

With so many northern European, or Viking/Baltic Bloc countries, voting in this semi final, most of the north-western European countries are starting at an advantage here based on the past voting histories of the countries that will be voting in this semi final. The fact that the United Kingdom and Germany will be two of the “Big 5” countries voting in this semi final also adds to the significant advantage that these north-western countries enjoy. Malta is the only “southern” country predicted to qualify from this semi final, along with perennial qualifiers, Azerbaijan, but Malta is the one southern country that traditionally has fared well in terms of winning support from Viking Bloc countries. Ireland are predicted to qualify from this semi final, but the margin in this analysis between Ireland and 11th/12th placed Switzerland and Cyprus is a tad too small for comfort! The Czech Republic is predicted to win no points in this semi final based on that country’s – to put it mildly – disappointing record across the only three Eurovision contests it has competed in to date – the semi finals of 2007, 2008 and 2009. Only five countries have awarded ten points in total to the Czech Republic across these contests – one point from Estonia in 2007, while five points from FYR Macedonia, two points from Croatia and one point from both Turkey and Malta were awarded to Tereza Kerndlová in the 2008 semi final. (The Czech Republic act won “nils points” at the 2009 semi final.) Hence, Malta is the only voting country in Semi Final 2 to have awarded any Eurovision points to the Czech Republic at this point in time. 

So to conclude, this study offers a prediction as to how the 33 countries participating in the two semi-finals may fare in these. Due to a lack of a functioning crystal ball, this analysis cannot assess the impact of a vital element of Eurovision success or failure, namely the quality and impact of the performance on the Eurovision stage. An impactful stage act and strong performance can push previously unfavoured acts into contention, but a weak live performances can in turn nix the prospects of contest favourites. And the growing influence being accorded to the voting juries, arising from new rules on how each country’s televote and jury vote rankings are to be combined, is another aspect that may further skew this picture. At this stage, we do not know how each country is faring in, or likely to fare in the bookie odds, given that relatively few countries have selected their Eurovision acts at this stage. Although we know which half of the semi final each country will be performing in, we also do not know the exact position in the running order that each country will be performing in at this stage. This is a very long-winded way of saying that if you decide to bet on the Final results based on this study and you make a few bob, then that’s great and mine’s a red lemonade (with the fizz taken out – the bubbles go to my head). On the other hand, if your bet goes horribly wrong and you single handedly cause another economic crash, then you’ll probably find me in deepest Outer Mongolia… 😮

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5 Responses to “Who will make it to the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 Final? Predictions for the Semi Final contests based on past voting history”

  1. 2015 Eurovision Song Contest Semi Final allocation draw | Adrian Kavanagh's Blog Says:

    […] look back at the previous post, as well as the next post, will show that this is a rather good draw for Ireland, although it does contain a number of […]

  2. Sie Says:

    Great post. It helps with the way I look at things. However taking these projections as a guide to projection a winner of high finisher is volitile as Austria were 50/1 at this time. For example I think Belarus, despite 100/1 will perform far better than projected here and I would be astonished if they miss the final. But you’re projections are the only fair way to anylise objectivly.

  3. 45td Says:

    Estonia is definitely going to qualify. And I doubt Russia would come first. Still it’s very impressive

  4. Playing With Numbers – Predictions for the 2015 Eurovision Semi Final contests | Adrian Kavanagh's Blog Says:

    […] To analyse this, I calculated, and ranked, the average number of points awarded by all the countries voting in the semi-finals since the introduction of televoting in 1998 to the 33 different countries that are taking part in these two semi-finals, but only looking at the countries taking in the semi-final that the different countries will be voting in. This ranking is then used to determine the semi-finalists that the different voting countries are likely to award their 12 points, 10 points…and 1 point to in these semi-finals, based on past voting histories. Hence, in the case of Semi Final 2, the Irish 12 points is expected to go to Lithuania (with an average points tally of 7.67 from Ireland to Lithuanian acts since the introduction of televoting in 1998), the semi-finalist that has enjoyed the highest average support level from Ireland in recent Eurovision contests. The next highest ranked country, Latvia (6.08 points average), would be predicted to win 10 points from Ireland, followed by the next highest ranked country, Poland (5.62 points average), which would be predicted to win 8 points from Ireland, and so on. The predicted points’ destinations for all the other 19 voting countries in the Semi Final 2 are estimated in a similar manner (with a similar process used for the Semi Final 1 voting countries). As Australia has never taken part/voted in a Eurovision contest prior to 2015, there are no voting history details to apply here, so some standardising of these vote calculations was required to take account of this. These points are then combined to calculate the overall predicted point tallies for the semi-finalists based solely on the past voting histories of the countries voting in these different contests, as noted in an earlier post.     […]

  5. Dying to Try or Trying to Qualify?: Estimates for the 2017 Eurovision Semi Final contests | Adrian Kavanagh's Blog Says:

    […] Hence, in the case of Semi Final 2, the Irish 12 points is expected to go to Lithuania (with an average points tally of 8.58 from Ireland to Lithuanian acts since the introduction of televoting in 1998), the semi-finalist that has enjoyed the highest average support level from Ireland in recent Eurovision contests. The next highest ranked country, Denmark (6.90 points average), would be predicted to win 10 points from Ireland, followed by the next highest ranked country, Estonia (4.61 points average), which would be predicted to win 8 points from Ireland, and so on. The predicted points’ destinations for all the other 20 voting countries in the Semi Final 2 are estimated in a similar manner (with a similar process being used for the Semi Final 1 voting countries). These points are then combined to calculate the overall predicted point tallies for the semi-finalists based solely on the past voting histories of the countries voting in these different contests, as noted in an earlier post.     […]

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