The Eurovision song contest has led to speculations of tactical voting, discriminating against some participants and inducing bias in the final results. Analysis of patterns over two decades has found that voting is more likely to be driven by positive loyalties based on culture, geography, history and migration.
In the study, published open access in the Journal of Applied Statistics, researchers used computer analysis to reveal clusters of countries with similar voting behaviors, and investigate the presence of positive or negative bias.
The researchers used a 'Bayesian hierarchical formulation' to model the scores. They took into account factors like the language of the song and the gender of the singer, both of which have known effects on the votes. This left behind an underlying trend to measure, based on cultural and geographical similarities, as well as migrations of people.
Co-author Dr Gianluca Baio said: "Migration seems to be an interesting explanation for some of the patterns that we see in the data. For example, Turkey seems to be scored highly by German voters, possibly due to the large number of Turkish people who have migrated to Germany, and potentially tele-vote from there. But our analysis found no convincing evidence of negative bias or discrimination against anyone -- no country really has any enemies."
In line with previous findings, the analysis of the data suggests that voting congregates within four broad groups of nations that tend to give each other points: one combining the former Yugoslavia, Switzerland and Austria; one covering central and Southern Europe; plus a larger bloc which includes the former Soviet bloc as well as the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia, which cleaves more-or-less randomly into two groups each year.
- Marta Blangiardo, Gianluca Baio. Evidence of bias in the Eurovision song contest: modelling the votes using Bayesian hierarchical models. Journal of Applied Statistics, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1080/02664763.2014.909792
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