For the first time since 1992 (coincidentally when Eurovision was last in Malmö), there are no former Yuglosav countries competing in the Eurovision final. In 1992 Yugoslavia entered, thus to go back to a contest without any Balkan countries participating we return again to Gothenburg, Sweden in 1985 when Yugoslavia skipped a year. Considering the Balkan bloc tend to give their votes to the Balkan bloc, this makes the contest more unpredictable.
Before I look at where this vote may go to, there are a few other points of note.
Tonight’s final will see the highest number of former Soviet states making the final, a total of 9 with only Latvia missing out, beating 2007’s record of 8 when Estonia didn’t make the cut and Azerbaijan made their Eurovision debut the year after.
5 countries arrived in Malmö to compete in the semi-finals with a 100% qualification rate; Azerbaijan, Greece, Romania, Russia and the Ukraine can head home with this record intact.
At the other end of the scale, 5 countries arrived in Malmö to compete in the semi-finals that had less than a 20% qualification rate, namely Belgium, Bulgaria, The Netherlands, Montenegro and San Marino; the latter two of which have never qualified to compete in the final. Only The Netherlands and Belgium qualified from this group.
This year’s final has become a lot more unpredictable as the Balkan bloc cannot take the Balkan bloc’s votes; they will instead be distributed. In addition, Turkey is not in the contest, again giving the opportunity to further redistribute their votes. I’ve taken a look at which countries usually receive points from the Balkan bloc with the voting history between 2008 and 2012 (2008 is the year the dual semi-final format began). This is not about voting blocs but focusing on who the beneficiaries could be from lack of the Balkan voting bloc.
I’ve considered the voting record of five former Yugoslav countries of Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia as well as Albania who shares a border with three former Yugoslav countries and Greece. Bosnia & Herzegovina’s vote allocations will not be considered as they are not competing in this year’s contest. I averaged their votes between 2008-2012, with each country giving ten sets of points (the famous 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1) to the countries they thought were the most deserving. Having ordered their averages, I have looked at the number of countries in their top ten that have been eliminated from the final and looked at the top five countries that are competing in tonight’s final.
Montenegro is the Balkan country that distributes the highest average points to other Balkan countries (positions 1-5), with Israel in sixth. 70% of their top ten vote destinations are not competing in tonight’s final. The top five countries that are competing tonight are Russia, Azerbaijan, Norway, Greece and Sweden. 4/5 of these countries may have been boosted by the winning song, thus it can be expected that Greece are likely to benefit the most.
Croatia sees 80% of their top ten vote destinations not competing in the final, the highest level of any country I’ve studied here. The top five countries who receive votes that are competing in tonight’s final are Azerbaijan, Sweden, Greece, Russia and the Ukraine, three of which again are previous winners and should be treated with caution.
Macedonia sees sees 60% of their top ten vote destinations not competing in the final with the top five countries being Azerbaijan, Italy, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom (surprising). Macedonia gave the United Kingdom 6 points for Jade Ewen and 5 points for Blue. Two countries in their top five have previously won the contest, thus Italy, Ukraine and the United Kingdom may benefit.
Serbia is the former Yugoslav country that by this measure typically gives less of its votes to the Balkans, with only Macedonia and Bosnia appearing in the top two positions (although Macedonia’s average is 12). The top five countries competing in tonight’s final that receive votes are Armenia, Greece, Hungary, Russia and the Ukraine. Interestingly, this appears to make Serbia the least ‘bellwether’ country of the those studied, as only one of the top five vote destinations are a country that went on to win the contest (Russia).
Slovenia has 70% of the countries missing in tonight’s final where their votes are usually attributed. The top five countries that are competing tonight are Russia, Azerbaijan, Norway, Greece and Sweden, again many of which have won the contest over these years.
Finally, Albania appears the least bloc vote of the set, which blows a hole in my presumption that sharing borders means votes will be more forthcoming for each other. 40% of Albania’s top ten vote destinations are not appearing in tonight’s final, with Greece, Italy, Norway, Azerbaijan and United Kingdom (again surprising) being the top five countries that are appearing in tonight’s final. Bearing in mind there are two former winners in the mix here, the countries that may benefit here are Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom.
The countries appearing in the top five and potentially are the biggest beneficiaries of the Balkan bloodbath are Azerbaijan and Greece (mentioned 5 times), Russia and Sweden (4), Norway and Ukraine (3), United Kingdom and Italy (2) and Armenia and Hungary (1). Considering, Azerbaijan, Russia, Sweden and Norway have all won during the time period that has been considered, it appears Greece is the biggest beneficiary of all of the absence of these countries. Could it cement a win on Greece’s part? Is Azerbaijan’s box gimmick enough to bag the 12 votes? Or will Bonnie amaze the Balkans?
It’s also worth considering the bookies favourite to win tonight being Denmark. The average number of points received by Denmark between 2008-2012 for Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia are 0.4, 0.4, 0.4, 0, 0.2 and 0 respectively. This could see whether or not the song trumps the cultural/political voting that everyone bangs on about.
I’m starting to get very excited now. Each year I throw a big party, although I’m hoping this will be the last, as next year I hope to attend for the first time. Just not in Tbilisi.