Some Eurovision 2016 statistics

A vision of Europe

Today, 200 million Europeans wake up with a banging headache, an empty liquor cabinet and almost no memory of any of the music they heard last night. Yes, it’s Eurovision time!

In the interests of openness, Eurovision makes all the results available in a convenient Excel format, and this means I get to have some fun. Here are a few of the more interesting results to come out of the night.

Regional voting happens… but mostly in the phone vote

The voting system used last night wasn’t actually new – there’s been a 50/50 phone vote and jury split since 2009. However, previously, these results were merged into one before the results were given. This is the first time the votes have been given individually, which helps us see exactly where Eurovision’s much touted regional bias comes from.

Serbia, once the dominant republic in Yugoslavia, got 12 points from every single former Yugoslav state in the phone voting, but did worse among them in the jury voting – no-one gave them 12, and Croatia gave them just 2.

Russia got lots of points at the phone voting stage from every former Soviet/Communist country, but then, they got lots of votes from everyone for their spectacular stage performance. Juries were more divided. Belarus gave them 12, but Ukraine gave them 0. Latvia (25% Russian) gave them 7 but Estonia (30% Russian) gave them nothing. Azerbaijan gave 12, Georgia gave just 1. All Russia’s neighbours, bar Finland and Georgia, gave them 12 in the televoting stage.

Ukraine also did well out here. Their song just skirted the limits of being outright political, but its message certainly resonated. Despite some mixed results in jury voting, every former Soviet country (including Russia!) gave it at least 8 points in the phone voting stage, as did every country that has been invaded by Russia/USSR within living memory, and the former Yugoslavian states were weirdly consistent in giving it scores between 6 and 8.

However, it’s not just the old Communist bloc that does it. Dutch-speaking Belgium and Netherlands gave each other just 4 points at the jury stage, but 10 and 12 at the televoting stage. Sweden cashed in by being the only Scandinavian country in the final, with 29 phone votes but just 16 jury votes off its neighbours.

Even the UK benefited. All our phone votes came from former British territories (Australia, Malta, Ireland – come on, Cyprus and Israel, step up). However, these countries were also some of the most generous at the jury stage.

It’s not just the neighbour vote that counts. Poland, with its large, widespread diaspora, picked up almost nothing at the jury stage (their best score was a 3 from Lithuania, itself a country with a large Polish-descended population) but took at least 10 points from every Western European country bar France whose population is at least 1% Polish.

So, the complainers seem to have half a point. There is a lot of regional vote trading going on… but mostly among the phone voters.

Juries are less decisive than phone voters

The distribution of scores. Each country's rank in each scoring system is ploted separately on the x-axis, and the number of points awarded is on the y-axis. The jury voting system spread votes widely among the middle- and lower-ranking countries, while televoting was more focused on the top 5.

It’s a fact – according to a chi-squared test, the jury votes looked more random than the phone votes (both in terms of the number of twelves and total number of points). Now, among an group of experts (i.e. the people at last night’s Eurovision party who complained about the results), this could mean one of two things:

1. Juries are more impartial than the biased phone voters – it might be that the reason that the phone votes were less random is that a few regional superpowers like Poland, Russia and Serbia picked up lots of bloc votes, while the juries selected more on grounds of personal taste (which will always be rather random). On these grounds, Australia would take the crown, the UK could hold its head high, but Poland would be ashamed.

2. Juries are out-of-touch – Of course, it’s weird if the opinions of “music experts” differ so wildly from those of the general public, and as some leaked footage from Russia’s jury showed, the judges often don’t pay attention to the show (which might explain giving random scores later). It’s therefore quite possible that the jury votes are just too arbitrary to be relied on, in which case Russia would be walking home with the crown, Israel and Malta would slip a long way down the chart, and Czechia would have the dreaded nul points.

In reality, of course, both are probably true. Juries and phone voters each have their own biases. Combining the two helps iron these out, and I think Ukraine were deserving winners despite placing second in both the televoting (where they were swamped by the geopolitical power and flashy staging of Russia) and the jury (where they were beaten by Australia’s very professional entry).

The final scores, showing the contribution of the two voting systems. The difference in the Australian and Russian vote is clear, but Ukraine did well under both.

There were more men than women in the juries… but this probably helped the women

In total, there were 90 women and 120 men in the 42 national juries of Eurovision. This means that for every 3 women, there were 4 men. However, a weird side effect of sexism in this case is that it seems to have boosted the success of female artists. While female-dominated juries were on average quite egalitarian in their votes, after Ukraine and Australia their next five favourite artists were all men (France, Israel, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden) who all did worse with male-dominated juries. Male-dominated juries on the other hand preferred female singers (such as from Armenia, Belgium, Bulgaria and Malta) who did poorly with female-dominated juries (and also rock acts like Georgia’s entry). Because overall there were far more male-dominated juries than female dominated ones (just 11 out of 42 had more women than men in them), this bias resulted in female-led entries scoring an average of 12 points more than male-led ones at the jury stage.

Televoting evened this out to some extent, but female singers still ended the night with a few points more than the men on average. Balancing the juries probably wouldn’t have knocked Ukraine off their perch, but Australia’s lead in the jury stage might have been a bit less towering, and the middle of the table might look a bit different.

So there you have it! Eurovision in numbers.

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