Kyiv 2017

An Alternate Universe: Eurovision 2017 Under the Old Voting System

Just yesterday, the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 in Kyiv, Ukraine took place. After a thrilling show, Portugal’s Salvador Sobral was crowned the winner with his song, ‘Amar Pelos Dois’. Under the current voting system, Salvador won the contest with 758 points. Today, we take a look into an alternate universe, in which the contest was hosted in Russia following Australia’s win last year with ‘Danny Im’ (Yes, Dami was born as a man in this universe), and the old voting system is still used, to see if the result will be the same!

What’s different between the current system and the old one?

The current system uses two completely different sets of points for the televote and the jury vote. These sets of points are then added together at the end of the show to reveal the result.
The old system uses just one set of points, using a combination of the televote and the jury vote. The average rankings in the televote and the jury vote for each of the participants is calculated, and then these rankings are used to determine the points awarded to each entry.

Remind me: what were the actual results this year?

The results of the first semi-final:
The results of the second semi-final:
The official scoreboard for the final:

So, what happened in our parallel universe?

Semi-Final 1

The first semi-final in our parallel universe had some strange differences. Due to a technical fault, Sweden’s Robin Bengtsson was thrown off the back of his treadmill as it suddenly increased in speed. Azerbaijan’s now rather plain performance was described as “severely lacking a man wearing a horse head on a ladder”. Most shockingly, whilst Danny Im performed his new single as an interval act, one of the Buranovskiye Babushki from 2012 invaded the stage and flashed the audience. Security immediately tackled her to the ground.


The results for the first semi-final are very similar to the real results. Portugal is still a runaway winner, with Moldova also well ahead of third place Sweden. The only change in the top 10 is that Armenia and Australia have swapped positions!
Finland, which shocked many fans by not qualifying, is now only 11 points away from qualifying, rather than 23. Georgia has dropped from 11th place to 13th, whilst Albania has jumped from 14th to 12th.
Other than this, most of the differences for this semi-final are very minor.

1 Portugal 206
2 Moldova 166
3 Sweden 132
4 Belgium 98
5 Cyprus 81
6 Armenia 75
7 Australia 71
8 Azerbaijan 67
9 Poland 60
10 Greece 57
11 Finland 46
12 Albania 43
13 Georgia 35
14 Iceland 26
15 Czech Republic 22
16 Slovenia 13
17 Montenegro 11
18 Latvia 9


Semi-Final 2

In our parallel universe, the second semi-final also had some differences. For example, the Croatian entry, Jacques Houdek, actually did perform half in drag, as many fans had speculated. The Norwegian mask continued to fail to light up, leading to JOWST throwing a tantrum mid-performance, and the Romanian act resulted in several audience members being injured by a rogue cannonball. Koit Toome & Laura were also much smarter, and sung about being lost in Lisbon.


The results for the second semi-final include some surprises! The winner of the semi-final is still Bulgaria, with a massive lead over second place, which now belongs to The Netherlands. Bulgaria still has the highest score in the semi-finals, the same as under the current system.
The biggest change in this semi-final is that Denmark is no longer a qualifier; they received 45 points, but so did Switzerland! The tiebreak rule under the old system was that the country that received points from the highest number of countries comes out on top. Switzerland received points from 13 countries, whereas Denmark only received points from 12 countries, meaning Switzerland is the qualifier.
There are two other tiebreak situations in this semi-final; The Netherlands receives points from every country, whereas Hungary receives points from every country apart from Malta. Serbia receives points from 10 countries, beating Ireland‘s 7.
San Marino becomes the only country in this year’s semi-finals to receive the dreadful nil points!
Israel drops from 3rd place to 5th, and Romania also drop from 6th place to 8th.

1 Bulgaria 222
2 The Netherlands 121
3 Hungary 121
4 Norway 109
5 Israel 105
6 Austria 74
7 Croatia 72
8 Romania 68
9 Belarus 55
10 Switzerland 45
11 Denmark 45
12 Serbia 43
13 Ireland 43
14 Estonia 39
15 FYR Macedonia 31
16 Lithuania 20
17 Malta 4
18 San Marino 0


Grand Final

The grand final featured many dazzling performances. The show began with a 20-minute long bombardment of facts about Russia, which Russian media says captivated the audience. O. Torvald from Ukraine kept their national final staging, except they ended their performance by actually blowing up when the timer hit 00:00. Once the audience had calmed down from the apparent terror attack on Russia, the show continued with the Italian performance, which featured a breakdancing turkey on stage.


Ok, first things first. Portugal, of course, still wins, but look at that score. Notice anything special? Yes, Portugal would’ve broke the record for most points ever received in Eurovision. The previous record of 387 points was set way back in 2009 by Alexander Rybak’s ‘Fairytale’. Portugal’s 417 points smashes this record! In our parallel universe, we’re all freaking out!
So now that we’ve got that big shock out of the way, let’s move on down the leaderboard…
Moldova and Sweden have swapped places; Moldova is now 5th, Sweden is now 3rd. Similarly, France has taken Australia‘s 9th place, whereas Australia has taken France’s 12th place.
Belarus have also jumped up from 17th place to 14th, and Greece have jumped from 19th place to 16th. Cyprus have also made quite an improvement, moving from 21st to 17th place. However, the United Kingdom fall from 15th to 18th place.
Israel move from 23rd place to 19th, but the biggest change is from Austria, who drop from 16th place to 23rd.

1 Portugal 417
2 Bulgaria 346
3 Sweden 227
4 Belgium 216
5 Moldova 210
6 Italy 174
7 Romania 115
8 Hungary 101
9 France 83
10 The Netherlands 78
11 Norway 72
12 Australia 60
13 Azerbaijan 52
14 Belarus 42
15 Croatia 40
16 Greece 39
17 Cyprus 37
18 United Kingdom 34
19 Israel 22
20 Armenia 21
21 Denmark 15
22 Poland 15
23 Austria 9
24 Ukraine 7
25 Germany 2
26 Spain 2

As much as we knew that Portugal had won by a massive margin this year, it’s still a huge shock to see that they would have actually beat the previous points record!
You can take a look at the details of the voting here.
Are you as shocked as we are at how the results would’ve turned out under the old system? Would you have liked to see Portugal smashing previous records? Let us know in the comments below!

Luke Malam

I've watched Eurovision for as long as I can remember, but my interest really built in 2008, after I decided to watch the semifinals online, out of boredom, before the final...I was blown away by the quality of the show and have been hooked ever since! I'm a competitive trampolinist and I love baking. I've also just completed a master's degree in Research Methods in Psychology at University College London.

Comments on An Alternate Universe: Eurovision 2017 Under the Old Voting System

  • Alex Larke

    Does this mean we would have scored 6 points under the new rules?!
    I’m about to crack open the champers…

  • Oscar

    This is a very interesting fact! But let me tell you that your numbers are slightly off.
    Portugal would have 414 votes in the old system and not 417 according to my calculations.
    You’ve got some errors in the portuguese voting on your excel file and I show you the corrections you should make:
    Aus: 8
    Bul: 3
    Est: 10
    Ita: 5
    Mal: 10
    Mon: 5
    It’s really remarkable that Salvador got 84% (414/492) of the vote versus 79% (387/492) from Alexander Rybak. Basically Portugal won by smashing numbers that are only not that obvious at a first sight because Bulgaria also got an excellent result. In most years Bulgaria would be a winner. They were unlucky to face the almighty Salvador Sobral! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Luke Malam

    We’ve just double-checked our calculations, and we’re still getting the numbers that we have above. There are several other people who have also figured the results out in the old system, and they agree with our scores…you might want to double-check your calculations! ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Oscar

    Taken from Wikipedia:
    “This is so called juryโ€“televote 50/50.[note 2] The two parts of the vote were combined by awarding 12, 10, 8โ€“1 points to the top ten in each discipline, then combining the scores. Where two songs were tied, the televote score took precedence.”
    Let me give an example then.
    The Australian vote:
    Moldova: 22 points, UK: 15 points, Portugal: 14 points, Denmark: 13 points, Bulgaria: 13 points, ….
    According to the old system this should translate to:
    Moldova: 12 points, UK: 10 points, Portugal: 8 points, Denmark: 7 points, Bulgaria: 6 points, …
    Notice that Demark gets more than Bulgaria because they have more in televoting (8 vs 5).
    Now, you have in your file:
    Moldova: 12 points, Portugal: 10 points, Denmark: 8 points, Bulgaria: 7 points, UK: 6 points, ….
    Unless I’m missing something, I think that it’s pretty obvious that your numbers are not correct…

  • Oscar

    Ok, you are right. I’ve realized now that the way they combine the results is by looking at the best rank and not the sum of points as I was doing. My bad!
    As such, it’s even more impressive ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Oscar

    I’m sorry to say this but as a matter of fact I was right!
    You can see as an example this link where they show how the UK gave points in 2011 and they do exactly as I did…

  • Luke Malam

    Ok, it depends on the system that is used. The system you described above was used for some contests (jury and televote each give 12, 10, 8-1 points, and then those are added to give the overall score), but the system that we used (jury and televote rank all the entries and then the average ranking is used to determine points) was used from 2013 onwards. Thus, it is the most recent voting system used, and the one that is most familiar and accepted by fans, other than the current one. Either way, it clearly doesn’t make much of a difference to the overall results! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Oscar

    Ok, now I finally understand what you did! Thank you very much for the explanation.
    I think that I was choosing this system becase I was mainly curious about comparing to Alexander Rybak back in 2009. He got a landslide victory at the time and I wanted to make a fair comparison to his result. He got 79% (387/492) of the possible maximum and Salvador would get 84% (414/492), if the same system would be used.
    Unfortunately I believe that there are no full rankings available for televote and jury back then and as such it would be impossible to make a comparison using the system used from 2013 onwards.
    To sum up, what you have done gives a fair comparison to results obtained from 2013 to 2015 which may be established directly. For votes from 2009 to 2012, one should probably use what I did to be fair. For other years it’s basically a matter of taste really. As you well say it won’t make much difference on the overall results anyway. The real important thing to retain here is: Portugal’s score is the highest ever! (you don’t show that here but I’ve seen it elsewhere… ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  • Fatima

    Good work by Luke (and Oscar). I just noticed how relatively badly the song drawn 12-22 fared. This backs up my feeling that there are simply too many sings for televoters (and even juries) to get their heads around on the night. So they stayed turned until the favourites had performed (to song 11), then zoned out until the final few songs before the voting.

  • Nick van Lith

    Under the new rules, you would’ve scored 7 points from televoters and 12 points from the juries… That means a grand total of 19 ๐Ÿ˜€ Open up the champers!

  • Oscar

    For the sake of completeness, I leave you with a link with the comparison of all ESC winners since 1975 when the 12,10,8-1 voting scheme was introduced:
    It’s really interesting to see how unbalanced this ranking is. As shown above Portugal 2017 would rank clearly above Norway 2009 and Sweden 2015 using the respective voting systems used at the time.
    On the other hand, what would be a fair comparison between Portugal 2017 and UK 1976, for example? One may suggest to look only at the jury vote where Portugal got 77.64% (382/492). But disregarding televote does not seem to be unbiased since televote is an important component of the current voting system. So, it’s not easy to come up with a totally fair comparison between these two songs. Not to mention that it’s also very different a vote with 18 countries and a vote with 42.
    So, what we can really say is Portugal’s vote this year has been very impressive. Definitely the strongest since 2009. If one makes a comparison using only jury vote, then Portugal 2017 may be behind UK 1976, Germany 1982, UK 1997 and Ireland 1994. However, the fact that the voting systems in place were fundamentally diffent and that most Eastern Europeans countries did not participate at the time make this comparison very biased. Having all these factors in mind, saying that Portugal’s score is the highest ever may be a little stretch but certainly not too much… ๐Ÿ™‚

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