Editorials & Opinion

Analysing the patterns among 13 years of Eurovision semi-final draw allocation pots

Just how has the make-up of the Eurovision semi-final draw allocation pots changed over the last 12 years?


Four nations have always appeared in the Soviet pot each time they’ve been in the semi-final allocation draw. These are Belarus, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine. Azerbaijan‘s perfect record is ruined due to the fact they were assigned to one of the “other” pots for their debut year in 2008. Of course, there was no Azerbaijani voting history for the EBU to analyse so it could not be presumed they would exchange points with other former Soviet states more often than not despite their geographical location.

In 2013 and 2014, Israel was pre-assigned to a semi-final in order for it not to clash with national holidays in the country. In 2019, they are an automatic finalist. Nevertheless, on only three other occasions has Israel not been present in the Soviet pot. All of these occasions were when there was a full Soviet contingent participating in the semi-finals, in 2016, 2018 and 2020.

Interestingly, between 2010 and 2012, Israel was deemed to have closer voting histories to the Soviet nations than Armenia. Instead, Armenia found themselves as part of the southeastern European pot. Furthermore, Moldova was also a consistent part of the Soviet pot up until 2012 – unlike Armenia. Yet, since 2013, Moldova has been shifted into either the “other” pots or the southeastern European pot, presumably as their voting ties with the former Soviet nations weaken.

However, 2020 saw an unexpected return for Moldova to the Soviet pot. With an extra Soviet pot space available due to the decrease in pots, the EBU determined that Moldova were the right country to fill that gap rather than Israel who had done previously.

Moldova had spent three consecutive years alongside the likes of Cyprus, Greece and Romania in the southeastern European pot. It had seemed like a new core group was being formed among these four nations…

Southeastern Europeans

Looking at Rotterdam’s “pot 4”, it may seem that this was just one of two “Other” pots. However, going back to 2008 indicates that there was a clear voting bloc that this pot is designed to separate. There is the obvious regional bloc of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey here. However, the only obvious points exchanges appear between Cyprus and Greece. Indeed, Turkey and Cyprus had never exchanged points until 2004 presumably as a result of the dispute between the nations.

Greece, Cyprus and Turkey all feature highly in Bulgaria‘s voting history tables. Indeed, Bulgaria has given more points to Greece in Eurovision finals than to any other nation. There is geographical proximity in play here too, with Bulgaria bordering Greece. Bulgaria also tends to favour entries from North Macedonia, however that link alone is not enough to suggest Bulgaria should be in the Balkan pot instead.

So why are Belgium and The Netherlands nearly always in the “southeastern Europe” pot, despite being located in the total opposite area of the continent? Well, prior to Turkey’s withdrawal, Belgium, in particular, awarded an above average amount of points to Turkey. Furthermore, Armenia was ever-present in this pot between 2010 and 2012, another nation with a significant diaspora community in Belgium. There is also the obvious connection between neighbouring Belgium and The Netherlands too.

This isn’t the strongest of pots, especially with the withdrawal of Turkey, the movement of Armenia to the Soviet pot and the eventual knock-on effect of this that removed the link between this area of Europe and Belgium and The Netherlands. Indeed, only Bulgaria, Greece and Cyprus are now consistent members of this pot. In recent years, Romania, Hungary, Australia, San Marino, Malta, Moldova, Ireland and most recently Portugal have all spent an odd year or two here to make up the numbers.

Our analysis continues on the next page, click here to continue!

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Ryan Cobb

My first memory of watching the Eurovision Song Contest was back in 2001 and, over the years, my passion and enthusiasm for the contest has very much turned into an obsession. I adore music and I love geography, so this contest is a natural fit for me. If la la loving Eurovision was a crime, I'd certainly be a criminal!

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