Qele Qele

OK, there are 142.2 million people in Russia, Europe’s largest country voting in Eurovision. San Marino, the smallest, has a mere 20000. But when it comes to the votes allocated in Eurovision each county’s votes count equally. If you think the EU’s Qualified Majority Voting system for legislation is bad, try Eurovision’s system – it’s a terrible distortion in favour of the smaller countries. Plus as most of the (small) Balkan countries vote for each other, and Russian minorities in the small Baltic and Caucusus countries vote for Russia you get a skewed result.

So here’s the alternative: weight each country’s votes according to that country’s population. OK, this assumes that voting turnout in all countries is the same, but it’s inherently a fairer system. Taking the populations of European countries from Wikipedia, and the official Eurovision results table I have come up with this adjusted Excel table. The result: Armenia (Qele, Qele) wins with a population-adjusted 5935.1 points, ahead of Greece (4251.6 points) and Azerbaijan (3796.1 points). Russia, the actual winner, manages only 5th place in the population adjusted results. Sadly even with the adjusted results the UK is still rooted to the bottom in 25th place.

Time for Eurovision voting reform?

[UPDATE – 26.05.08]
Terry Wogan, legendary BBC Eurovision commentator, is starting to get fed up with the way the contest is going. Read his complaints here. You need a solution Terry! Voting reform!

[UPDATE – 28.05.08]
An excellent graphical representation of the results at Strange Maps. Plus the Norwegian Delegation to the EU also has cottoned on to my idea that Armenia should have won Eurovision, although they seem to think it’s because I come from a large member state. Norway had a half decent song, the singer’s face was not made of plastic like the Swedish entry, and so they deserved to come somewhere in the top half. Just getting support from other Nordics is not enough – even today!


  1. Terry Wogan is a old hate spreading psycho and must be isolated!

  2. I thought about doing this myself – thanks for saving me the work!

    If you change the formula to weight by the square-root of population (as in a current EU proposal for voting), then you still get Armenia winning but with Russia only falling to 2nd. This system reduces the effect or larger countries deciding everything.

    It doesn’t, however, fix the problem that both Armenia and Russia’s entries were terrible. 🙂

  3. Yes No Angels were that bad. They were off-key! Sometimes that can happen if the performers’ headpieces fail and they can’t hear the backing track. That is of course to give them the benefit of the doubt.
    While voting reform might help, the way I see it, the UK and others (France, Spain) need to think about what Eurovision is for…
    Is it to showcase the top musical acts from that country?
    Is it to try to perform songs that will appeal to the voting public in eastern Europe?
    Is it a bit of fun and we don’t really want to host it anyway?
    Is it a way of judging the popular sentiments that drive politics (see Russia’s popularity this year, UK in 1997, Ukraine in 2006 etc.)?
    Is it a waste of money, which if it’s taxpayers money is a more important question?
    I blogged on this a couple of days ago and have had more hits on that post since then than on any blog entry I write that is not baby-related…

  4. Eurotrashlove

    OF course Armenia should’ve won being the most catchy danceable and amazing song,*winkwink*,

    I totally agree that the voting system needs changing. Why not keep the system as it is, but permit the bigger countries to have populous departements vote separately. We could have Scotland, London, Ile-de-France, Berlin represented with own songs, or, to limit the number of entries, have certain areas divided by population enter (like one entry for the entire scandinavia, one for the baltics etc), allthough I fear that would promote wars. 😉

    Apart from this problem remains the fact that the competition has a very small following and low status in big countries like Italy and France, which is really sad and detracts from the competition.

    When it comes to who should’ve won, musically no-one can tell who /should/ be the winner. However certain countries are making more of an effort to win touring lots of places and really making an effort to select the most popular artist representing their country. Some of the eastern european songs have something new and fresh also in their composition and music. Ethic rhythms and melodies like the Armenian and greek song had, also prominent in the winner of 2004, is fresh, it’s works both in RnB clubs and in a more traditional club setting.

    The music HAS changed a lot after the former soviet countries were included and maybe the werstern countries should not only blame the system (allthough I agree it’s definetly not perfect)but also try to elevate the status of the competition and select some music that has a chance of winning. After all, it
    s not ALL About political votes, something the position of armenia, norway and other countries proves this year…

  5. Did you all actually think that Germany’s entry was this horrible? I expected way more, because No Angels are rather popular in Germany, and I thought they were also popular in several European countries. I really thanked Bulgaria for their 12 points. LOL

    I definitely think a Eurovision voting reform is necessary. But some of the songs on the top spots were actually good and earned the recognition they received.

  6. Nice idea. But you also need to get around the problem that countries cannot vote for themselves, which puts them at a handicap in a system of weighted voting.

    Suppose your competition involves just three countries, on large country of 100 million and two small countries of 1 million: whoever the large country votes for will always win – hence the large country never will. The problem remains with a greater number of countries.

    Maybe one way around the problem is to “fictionnally” make each country give themselves 12 points (times their population) in your excell sheet if they are among the finalists.

    In the existing system where all countries have an equal vote, this neutralises voting for oneself (you add 12 points to each participating country). But in a weighted system, you give an advantage to the larger countries which should compensate the handicap I mentionned. I haven’t tested it on the excell sheet though. feel like trying it?

  7. Bill Chapman

    There’s a neglected linguistic issue here too. Would it not be fairer if every country’s song were sung in Esperanto?

    Esperanto works! I learned it in my late teens, and I’ve used it in speech and writing in a dozen countries over recent years. As a planned auxiliary language, it is easier to learn and use than national tongues.

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