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There have been many varied voting systems at the Eurovision Song Contest. Currently, the winner of the Contest is selected by means of a positional voting system. Each country ranks all the entries and assigns twelve points to their favorite entry; ten points to their second favorite entry; and eight down to one point to their third to tenth favorites. Countries are not allowed to vote for themselves.

The current method for ranking entries, first introduced in 2009 in the final, and in 2010 in the semi-finals, is a 50/50 mixture of both telephone vote and the votes of juries made up of music professionals.[1] In the past, small demographically balanced juries made up of ordinary people were used to rank the entries. After the wide spread implementation of telephone vote in 1998 juries were only used in case of televoting malfunctions or a weak telephone system - for example, in 2003, Eircom's telephone polls system ceased to operate normally. The Irish broadcaster, RTÉ, did not receive the votes on time and instead used a panel of judges.[2]

The 1956 Contest did not have regional voting. The BBC had used the idea of contacting regional juries by telephone in their national competition to choose their 1956 song. The EBU later adopted the idea of contacting the international juries by telephone, and was used from the next contest, and used until 1993. In 1994, the Contest saw the first satellite link-up to juries. See below.

The presenters of the Contest connect by satellite to each country in turn, inviting the spokesperson to read out that country's votes in French or English. The presenters then repeat the votes in the alternate language. Due to time constraints in 2004 and 2005, the voting was only translated from English to French and vice-versa instead of repeating the votes that were said. To offset the extension to voting time caused by the increased number of participating countries, from the 2006 contest onwards, each country's one to seven point votes were simply added automatically to the scoreboard as that country's spokesperson was introduced, with only the eight, ten and twelve-point scores being read out. From 2008, a progress bar at the bottom of the screen showed "X of 43 COUNTRIES VOTING" to indicate viewers how many countries have placed their votes (where X is the number from 1 to 43).

Contents

Tie-breakers

In the event of a tie for first place after all the points have been announced, there is a tie-break procedure. It was realised that a tie-break procedure need be predetermined following the 1969 contest, where France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom tied for first place. Since no tie-breaking system had been previously decided, it was determined that all four countries be jointly awarded the title. In protest, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Portugal did not participate the following year.

Current tie-breaking rules are to count the number of countries who assigned any points to each entry in the tie. This system is sometimes called the "count-back". If there is still a tie, the second tie breaker is to count the number of countries who assigned twelve points to each entry in the tie. Tie-breaks continue with ten points, eight points, and so on until the tie is resolved. Ties for other places are only officially resolved if they matter for qualification purposes.

In 1991, the tie-break procedure was put into action when Sweden and France both scored 146 points after the voting had finished. At the time, the tie-break rule was slightly different, that is the first tie-break rule (the country voted for by the most other countries wins) was not yet in use. Both Sweden and France had received the maximum of twelve points four times. Only when the number of ten point scores had been counted, Sweden, represented by Carola with the song "Fångad av en stormvind" (Captured by a Love Storm), could acclaim its third victory. Thus, the French song, "C'est le dernier qui a parlé qui a raison" ("It's he who speaks last that is right") performed by Amina, came second with the smallest margin ever to spare to the winner.

Nul points

Since each of the participating countries casts a series of votes, it is rare that a song fails to receive any votes at all. Under the modern rules this means that the song failed to make the top ten most popular songs in any country. When it does happen, it is known as nul points, from the practice of reading results in French as well as English during the broadcast. It should be noted, however, that the phrase nul points (nor, for that matter, any reference to a country having not received points from another country's voters) is never actually read out during the presentation of the Contest.

Entries which received nul points, since the introduction of the current scoring system in 1975 are as follows:

In his book Nul Points, comic writer Tim Moore interviews each of these performers to find out if their Eurovision score was the end of their music career or just the beginning.

Since the creation of a semi-final in 2004 and two semi-finals in 2008, more than thirty countries vote each night - even the countries eliminated or already qualified. Thus the nul points become rarer: it would mean, being less than tenth in every country. In the 2004 semi-final, Switzerland's "Celebrate" by Piero Esteriore & The MusicStars received nul points, but only 32 countries out of 36 voted, and in the first 2009 semifinal, where only 20 countries voted, Czech Republic's "Aven Romale" by Gypsy.cz received nul points.

Regional bloc voting

Block voting in the Eurovision Song Contest from 2001 to 2005 according to Derek Gatherer (2006)[3]
     "The Pyrenean Axis"      "The Partial Benelux"      "The Viking Empire"      "The Warsaw Pakt"      "The Balkan Block"

Recent tests suggest that regional block voting indeed exists;[3] it is a matter of debate whether it is primarily explained by conscious political alliances or by a tendency for culturally close countries to have similar musical tastes.[4] Historically, the United Kingdom and France would exchange points at an average of 6.5 points per contest. Greece and Cyprus also regularly exchange points; since 1986, the two countries have nearly always exchanged the maximum twelve points between themselves. Several countries can be organised into voting blocs which regularly award each other high points:[3]

  • Andorra and Spain;
  • Belgium and the Netherlands;
  • Scandinavian and Baltic states: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland; and Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania;
  • Balkan countries:
    A core contingent of former Yugoslavian countries, most notably Serbia (and Montenegro), Macedonia, and Croatia;
    An outer contingent consisting of Bosnia–Herzegovina, Slovenia, Albania, Romania, Greece, and Cyprus.
  • Former Warsaw Pact countries of Poland, Ukraine, and Russia.

Failed voting systems

One of the most notable examples of a failed voting system was the one used for the 1969 contest. This system had been used since between 1957 and 1961, and later in 1967 and 1968. Ten jurors in each country assigned gave a single vote to their favourite song. Four countries tied for first place (UK, Netherlands, France, and Spain), and there was no tie-break procedure. A "second round" voting in the event of a tie was introduced to this system in 1970.

Between 1962 and 1966, a voting system closer to the current system was used. In 1962 each country awarded its top three one, two and three points, in 1963 the top five was awarded one, two, three, four and five points, and from 1964 until 1966, each country awarded its top three one, three and five points. With the latter system, there was an additional rule that each country could choose not to give points to three countries, but award points to two countries (giving one a three and the other a six) like in 1965, where Belgium awarded the United Kingdom six, and Italy three points. It also allowed to give 9 points to a single country, but it never happened.

The 1971, 1972, and 1973 contests saw the jurors "in vision" for the first time. Each country was represented by two jurors - one older than 25 and one younger, with at least ten years' difference in their ages. Each juror gave a minimum of one point and a maximum of five points for each song. In 1974, the previous system of ten jurors was used, and the following year, the current system was introduced. Spokespeople were next seen on screen in 1994 by satellite link up to the venue.

With the introducted of two semi-finals in 2008 a new method of selecting finalist was created - the top nine songs in the total televote votes qualified along with one song selected by the back-up juries. This method in most cases meant that the tenth song in the televote placing failed to qualify, and attracted some criticism, especially from the Macedonia, who in both years placed 10th in the televote.[5] In 2010 the system used in the 2009 final, with both jury and televoting selecting the winner, will be used also to select the semi-finalists.[1]

References

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