France would have won Eurovision 2021 with the “old” voting system

Italy has won the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest during the Grand Final, early this morning. But since the EBU has revealed the detailed results of the night, we have been able to calculate the results under the previous voting system. And in a surprising twist, France could have won the 2021 edition under the famous “old system”, with juries and televote mixed together!

The alternative results – 2015 system

Under the system used between 2013 and 2015 (more details below), the results of the Grand Final would have been extremely close, and suspenseful, with France winning by one point over Italy!

The rest of the Top 10 would remain unchanged, but countries from the 12th place to the last would have moved up and down.

As for the last four countries, who received no points from the televotes, all of them would have ended up nil pointers. However, they can still be ranked according to the tie-breaking rules, which state that tied countries having received points from the same number of countries (in this case… 0), and the same number of points from the televote (0 again), and the same number of 12s, 10s, etc. (0 for each mark…), must be ranked by giving precedence to the acts which performed earlier during the show. The UK would thus technically avoid a last place, being the first of the four to have hit the stage, swapping positions with The Netherlands.

Still, this would have been an absolute record of nil-pointers in a final since the introduction of the 1-to-8-10-12 points scoring in 1975. The 1983, 1997 and 2015 contests had two nil-pointers, while the contests between 1962 and 1965 also had four nil-pointers, although it was made easier by a different scoring system.

Where do the numbers come from? – a bit of maths

These numbers are as close as you can get to those that would have had appeared if the EBU hadn’t changed the voting rules in 2016. This specific system was in use between 2013 and 2015, and we have used the details of the 2014 rulebook to transform the raw data of this year’s Grand final votes into the “old system alternative”.

In the old system, jury votes were calculated differently, through an arithmetic average. We have thus recalculated the jury votes according to that system. For example, this year, the five Latvian jurors ranked Iceland 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 7th. On average, that is 3.4 (1+2+3+4+7=17, 17/5=3.4). These averages were then ranked, to obtain the full ranking of the national jury.

What if there were ties?

In case of ties in this jury ranking, the rules stated that the ties would be broken “by a show of hands”. The way we interpret that is through logic : if jurors are told to choose between two tied songs, they would choose the one they ranked higher in the first place. Coming back to the Latvian jury, another song had an average position of 3.4, Switzerland. Looking at the details, Jurors A, B and C put Switzerland above Iceland, while Jurors D and E put Iceland above Switerland. In a show of hands, that would logically translate to three voices for Switzerland and two for Iceland, putting Switzerland above Iceland in the jury ranking (in this specific case, Switzerland 1st and Iceland 2nd).

The jury rank was then combined with the televote ranks, to make a common Top 26 (or Top 25 for countries taking part in the final), with the top 10 receiving points from 1 to 12. Ties would be broken by giving the highest scores to countries being ranked higher in the televote. In the case of Latvia, for example, three countries tied for the 9th position (Belgium, Bulgaria, and Norway, with an average position of 11.5). Norway was 9th in the televote, Belgium 13th and Bulgaria 15th : thus, Norway got the 9th position (and 2 points from Latvia), Belgium the 10th place (1 point) and Bulgaria, 11th and no points.

What about San Marino?

As you may know, San Marino does not have a televote. In the current system, it is replaced by a televote aggregating results from several other countries’ televote. However, before 2016, the results of San Marino were simply the results of the San Marinese jury, and so it is in these alternative results.

How does this explain the alternative results?

The different system shows a different result for several different reasons.

Italy’s advance over France was already thin in the actual results (25 points), and it was absorbed by the old system because of the juries. Basically, some juries ranked Italy quite low, with Italy losing points or even getting out of some countries’ Top 10s when juries and televotes were combined. France, however, had more consistent jury and televote scores, meaning that the mixing of both would change very little for Barbara.

The same thing happened, the other way around, for Portugal. While high in the juries, they were sometimes very low with the televotes, which dragged Portugal out of the mixed rankings. The best example here is the Czech Republic, where Portugal topped the jury rankings (with the 2021 system and with the 2013-2015 system), but was 21st with the televote, ending up below the top 10 and receiving no points from Prague.

As for the nil-pointers, their televoting ranks were usually very low (as we’ve explained in detailed and separate articles for Germany, Spain, The Netherlands and the UK), and none of them ranked very high when they reached the Top 10 of a few juries. Their low ranks with the televotes would always drag them out of the combined top 10, leaving all four with no points.

What do you think? Which system do you prefer? Are you curious about other alternative results? Tell us more in the comments below, or on social media at @escxtra !

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