Eurovision Song Contest 2016 – Details on the Voting Juries

Adrian Kavanagh, 3rd May 2016 (Updated on 4th May)

In 2016 (as in 2014 and 2015), in a break from the pattern of the previous four contests (in which no details were provided on the split televotes and jury votes of the different participating countries), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is allowing for a greater detail of voting information to be released after the Eurovision final, in part as a reaction to various vote-rigging allegations after the 2013 contest. In a bid to promote further transparency, on May 1st 2015 the European Broadcasting Union also released the names (and gender/age/profession details) of the 210 different jurors who will form the professional juries for this year’s 42 participating countries.

At some stage after the Final on Saturday May 14th 2016, the individual votes/rankings of these 210 different jurors will be released (each country’s televote and overall jury vote ranking will also be released soon after the final), as also happened in 2014 and 2015, allowing for some potentially fascinating research (if one had the time!) as to whether jury voting patterns differ according to age, gender or role in the music industry, if this turned out to be the case.

In any course, based on the details provided by the EBU, we can get an overview of the 210 people who will be forming the professional voting juries for this year’s contest. Membership of juries should be open to all citizens of the different participating states who are working in the music industry, but with a specification that juries be balanced in terms of age and gender, as well as positions/roles within the music industry. Jury members should not have served on a jury in 2014 or 2015 and will not be allowed to serve on a jury again over the following two years, while they also (quite obviously) should have no personal links to any of the entries or acts participating in this year’s contest.

The general expectation is that jury voting should offer a balance to the tendency for diaspora/neighbourly based bloc voting associated with the public vote/televote, as was described in The Eurovision Handbook 2014 and indeed earlier posts on this website. This does not necessarily always be the case however. Ironically, with greater levels of transparency, jury members are probably more likely to vote in a political manner, or in a manner that is in keeping with what amounts to political correctness in their specific region of Eurovision territory.

This is my overview of the 42 different voting juries:

Age: There is a wide range of ages encompassed across the different juries and jury members. The average age of a jury member for this year’s contest is 41.1 years (it was 39.8 years in 2014 and 41.0 years in 2015). In 2015, there was a very wide range in age between the oldest jury member, 72-year old Vladimir Bár from the Czech Republic, and the youngest jury member, 17-year old Isa Tengblad/ISA from Sweden.

LisaAjax2

Lisa Ajax (Sweden) – the youngest of the professional jury members for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest (@ WiwiBloggs, 2016)

However, the age gap between the oldest and youngest jury members was initially much wider as regards the 2016 voting juries. The youngest juror for this year’s contest was meant to be 16-year old Macedonian singer, Anja Veterova. Ireland’s Molly Sterling (18 year-old) was initially the next youngest jury member out of the 210 different Eurovision jury members this year until 17-year old Melodifestivalen finalist, Lisa Ajax, was added to the Swedish jury on 4th May to replace one of the other Swedish jury members (as reported by  ESCToday.com, as well as by the WiwiBloggs website). Ana Veterova was replaced on the Macedonian jury just before the contest began, however, thus leaving Lisa Ajax as the youngest of the 210 jury members.  By contrast, the chairperson of the Russian jury – 81-year old composer, Gennady Gladkov – was meant to be the oldest jury member this year. However, he too was replaced on the Russian jury just before the contest commence. This now left 76-year old Estonian jury member, Els Himma, as  In relation to the initial jury members for 2016, there a 65-year age gap between the oldest and youngest jury members (as compared with a 55-year age gap for the 2015  juries), but that age gap narrowed to 59-years after the late changes were made to the jury memberships.

The country with the oldest jury (highest average age of the different jury members) is the Czech Republic, with an average age of 51.6 years for its five jury members (last year it was Romania with 52.6 and in 2014 it was Albania with 49.4). The average ages of the voting juries of Albania (51.0 years) and The Netherlands (50.8 years) are also higher than the fifty years (of age) mark. By contrast, Spain (with an average age of 28.6 years) has the youngest of the voting juries (last year it was Latvia with 32.2 and in 2014 it was San Marino with 25.8). The average age of Switzerland’s voting jury (29.8 years) is also lower than the thirty years (of age) mark, with the average ages of the juries of Malta (31.4 years) and Sweden (31.8 years) coming close to this level.

The average age of the Irish jury – 35.4 years – is well down on the 45.8 year average for the 2014 Irish jury and the 43.2 year average for the 2015 Irish jury. This leaves Ireland as having one of the younger of the voting juries this year (ranked 33rd out of 42 countries in terms of the average age of the jury).

There is no major variation in terms of the average ages of the juries who will be voting on the Semi Final 1 contest/entries and the juries who will be voting on the Semi Final 2 contest/entries. Even though the youngest of the voting juries – the Spanish jury – votes in Semi Final 1, the average age of the Semi Final 1 juries is only slightly lower than that of the Semi Final 2 juries. The average age of the voting juries for Semi Final 1 (including all the Semi Final 1 countries, as well as France, Spain and Sweden) is 40.7 years. The average age of the voting juries for Semi Final 2 (including all the Semi Final 2 countries, as well as the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany) is 41.4 years.

Gender: Despite the stipulation that juries should be balanced in terms of gender, there are overall more male jury members than female jury members – 120 (57.1%) jury members are male and 90 (42.9%) jury members are female. This marks a notably worse gender balance than was the case for last year juries – when there was a 54.5%/45.5% breakdown between male (109 male jury members) and female (91) jury members. But this does mark a slight improvement on the gender breakdown for the 2014 voting juries  – when there was a 57.3%/42.7% breakdown between male (106 male jury members) and female (79) jury members.

This bias towards male jury members is down to the fact that most of the participating countries have interpreted the gender balance stipulation in terms of their juries having three male jury members and two female jury members. Furthermore three of the participating countries this (Poland, Austria and Hungary) have four male jury members and only one female jury member. (Late changes to jury memberships meant that Aremnia also joined the list of countries with four jury members.) By contrast, ten of the participating countries (up from six in 2014, but down from 13 in 2015) – Azerbaijan, Belgium, The Netherlands, Iceland, Estonia, Cyprus, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia and Ireland – have more female jury members (i.e. three) than male (i.e. two). Some of the countries included in this list also have females chairing the juries, namely Azerbaijan, Germany, Slovenia, The Netherlands and Ireland. There is also a biased gender breakdown when it comes to the position of chairs of the different voting juries, although the trend here does mark an improvement on the 2015 pattern, at least in this instance. In 2016, females will account for seventeen of the forty two voting jury chairpersons – females accounted for only ten (out of forty) voting jury chairpersons in 2015. This number, however, later increased to eighteen following a change to the Russian jury membership.

Position in the Music Industry: Countries were asked to identify the roles/positions held by their jury members in the music industry to justify their inclusion as members of those countries’ professional voting juries. Looking at the details provided (and noting that certain jury members can fit into two, or more, of these groups), it can be seen that singers account for the largest grouping across this year’s jury members, with 93 (44.3%) of the jury members being identified as such (44.0% of the 2015 voting jury members were singers in 2015). The next largest grouping would be songwriters/lyricists (70 or 33.3%), followed by producers (42 or 20.0%), musicians/conductors (38 or 18.1%) and people working as DJs/music journalists (28 or 13.3%) Managers/record company CEOs account for 9 (4.3%) of jury members, while 18 (8.6%) jury members are identified as being vocal coaches and/or music teachers/professors. A not-insignificant number of jury members do not seem to have a role specifically within the music industry, however – 27 jury members (12.9%), with the bulk of the Italian jury appearing to fall into this category – with most of these taking up positions within the wider media spectrum, including roles as “TV host”, “actor”, “screenwriter”, “costume designer”, “artists’ public relations” and “web marketing specialist and blogger”, as well as “poet, translator, writer”. Given the increase clout accorded to the voting juries with the changes being made to the Eurovision voting process, the limited musical expertise of some jury members could have a bearing on how they rank the different entries – potentially placing greater emphasis on the spectacle/staging than the song – and ultimately on the final results in the semi-finals and final.

While there is no stipulation that jury members should have had a past experience of the Eurovision Song Contest, quite a number of jury members across the different countries have a good degree of Eurovision pedigree. In the case of Ireland, Molly Sterling performed for Ireland at the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, while Jimmy Rainsford was a member of her supporting band. (The other three Irish jury members, Ken O’Sullivan, Lauren Murphy and Caroline Henry, do not seem to have any (obvious) links to the contest, by contrast.) There are a number of other jury members from amongst the other countries with a notable Eurovision pedigree also. Alma Čardžić, who is the chair of the Bosnia and Herzegovina jury, performed for Bosnia and Herzegovina (along with Dejan) at the 1994 Final in Dublin – an appearance that was famously marked by a very long ovation from the crowd at the start of the performance – and also performed again for Bosnia and Herzegovina as an individual artist at the 1997 Final in Dublin. Andrea Demirovic performed for Montenegro at the 2009 Eurovision. Other jury members, with past experiences of performing at Eurovision, are noted in a posting on the Wiwibloggs (April 29th 2016) website.

After some controversy involving the publicising of one of the Russian jury members comments on the first semi-final on Periscope on 9th May, as reported by the WiwiBloggs website (10th May 2016), it was decided by the Russian participating broadcaster RTR that the jury member involved would be withdrawn from the panel with only the votes of the four remaining jury members being left to stand for Semi Final 1, as reported on the official Eurovision website (10th May 2016). A replacement judge was put in pace ahead of the Final (with the Jury vote for this taking place on…gulp…Friday 13th May.) 

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2 Responses to “Eurovision Song Contest 2016 – Details on the Voting Juries”

  1. MauioN Says:

    Hi,
    There is a little mistake in your analysis. The jury of Bosnia and Herzegovina is made of 3 male members and 2 female members.
    Nevertheless, it’s very interresting. And I may add that Sascha Vollmer from Hoss Power is a member of German jury and mars member of the jury in The Voice of Germany when Iveta for Armenia participated in that contest Voice of Germany.
    Wiktoria from Sweden is a jugde on eurovision program (Inför ESC) on SVT and we already know who are her favorite song of Eurovision 2016.
    Read you soon !!!

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