Eurovision

Will Eastern Europe benefit from the new Eurovision voting? Here’s your answer!

Yesterday’s news of the new voting system at the Eurovision Song Contest sparked a hefty amount of reactions on social media. That is why we at ESCXTRA.com have decided to take a closer look at the potential winners or victims of this new system. Is the western fear of returning to the 2004-2008 days a reality? Will, as some say, the East benefit from the new semifinal voting?

Recap: The new Eurovision voting

The EBU announced yesterday that only televoting will decide the qualifiers in the semifinals, starting at Eurovision 2023. This means that a back-up jury will exist only if televoting fails to work or if there are not enough (or any) televotes, like in San Marino. Aside from that, the EBU have introduced a set of televotes from the Rest of the World, allowing non-participating countries to vote through a credit card system. That should prevent irregularities, such as the use of VPN, from happening.

One of the reasons given by the EBU in making these changes is to combat the unprecedented number of voting irregularities which took place at the Eurovision Song Contest 2022. A working group of EBU members was established to look at ways that the integrity of the vote could be protected and these recommendations have been implemented by the EBU with these changes.

Winners or losers?

In order to determine winners or losers, we have decided to look at the amount of times a country (would have) qualified. Some countries will increase their final participations, others will see theirs reduced. Some users of social media have claimed that mainly Eastern European countries will benefit from this, highlighting a dangerous narrative that was dominant in Western Europe between 2004 and 2008. The question is… Is that actually the case?

Azerbaijan: The biggest sufferer

One country will lose a massive total of three Grand Final spots in this new system: Azerbaijan. Interestingly, all of their extra non-qualifiers would have been ballads. “Start A Fire”, “Hour of the Wolf” and “Fade to black” would all have missed out. The latter would even have finished last in its semi with zero points.

Also losing: Israel, Malta and Hungary

Two more countries lose two spots in the Grand Final without gaining any. These are Israel and Hungary. For Israel, two big male ballads would have missed out, with Harel Skaat’s “Milim” and Hovi Star’s “Made of Stars”. Hungary would have failed to qualify with both “Sound of our Hearts” and “Wars for nothing”.

Malta is often seen as a country with a lot of jury support and that seems to be correct. They would lose two spots in the Grand Final under the new system. Both “Coming Home” and “This Is The Night” were jury qualifiers. However, both were already seen as borderline qualifiers. Their big hitters, such as “Tomorrow”, “Walk on water” and “Je me casse” were solid televote qualifiers as well.

The biggest winner: Finland

Interestingly, the biggest winner of this system would have been Finland. The northern country failed to qualify three times based on their jury vote alone. This includes 2015 televote favourites PKN and “Aina Mun Pitää”, but also fan favourites “Blackbird” and “Työlki Ellää”. No other country would have had as many gains as Finland. In these years, their jury vote was bad enoug for them to fail to qualify, despite televoters wanting to give them a chance in the Grand Final.

Also winning: North Macedonia, Lithuania and Poland

The next step is where some people do have a point that the east might benefit from this new system. North Macedonia, Lithuania and Poland all gain two spots in the Grand Final. For Lithuania, both “Eastern European Funk” and “Run With The Lions” would have qualified. However, “C’Est Ma Vie” would have failed to make it through. Here is where we do start to see a bit more of a trend: InCulto would’ve taken the final spot away from either Niamh Kavanagh or Harel Skaat – both heavy ballads. Quite a few of the ‘new non-qualifiers’ are in fact ballads.

Poland’s new qualifiers would have been Tulia and Gromee ft. Lukas Meijer, with North Macedonia giving Kaliopi her second final run with “Dona”. Technically, “Neshto Sto Ke Ostane” would also have been a new televote qualifier, but they failed to qualify due to the 2009 system. Even in a combined vote, Next Time finished tenth in their semi, thus giving them a final spot. However, the 2009 rules meant the jury could ‘save’ a tenth qualifier. This cost North Macedonia a final spot, as the juries put Finland’s “Lose Control” through to the final.

Balancing it out: Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Ireland

Two countries that have often been mentioned as losers of the new system were the Czech Republic and Ireland. Both countries have traditionally struggled in a televote, as there is no (or hardly any) natural and guaranteed televote for either one of them. This means that we do want to take a closer look at them: Are they indeed going to suffer?

The answer seems to be no. At least not based on the system, as Ireland have been struggling for years. Ireland would indeed have lost a final spot with former winner Niamh Kavanagh back in 2010, getting her final spot from the juries. However, they would at the same time gain a final placing with “Heartbeat”, their 2014 entry by Can-Linn & Kasey Smith. The same goes for the Netherlands, who would have gained “You & Me”, but failed with “Outlaw in ’em”.

Czech Republic have the same kind of story. Their first ever qualification would now have happened in a different year. Gabriela Gunčíková finished twelfth in her semi with televoters with her “I Stand” and thus would now fail. However, “Hope Never Dies” for the Czechs as their 2015 was in fact a televote qualifier: Václav Noid Barta and Marta Jandová would have given them their first ever spot in the Grand Final.

On a separate note: San Marino is often the third country mentioned as suffering from this. However, all of their qualifying entries were in fact also in the televoting top ten in their respective years (“Maybe”, “Say Na Na Na” and “Adrenalina”).

In short: What do we take from this?

We now need to draw some conclusions after seeing the winners and losers of this system. Some of the presumed losers, like the Netherlands, San Marino or Czech Republic, actually don’t lose any Grand Final appearances. It’s actually Azerbaijan, Hungary, Israel and Malta that miss out more than anyone else. On the other side of the spectrum, it’s Finland who actually wins most with three Grand Final spots. Poland and North Macedonia also gain quite a bit.

Interesting to see is also the fact that Sweden would regain their status as perennial qualifier, with “This Is My Life” coming back to the final. At the same time, Ukraine would have lost theirs in 2012 with “Be My Guest”. Cyprus and Greece would also restore their records more, with “Ela” and “Oniro Mou” slipping into the final.

All in all, most of the permutations seem to be happening in the east of Europe. This goes for the positive (such as Bulgaria or Croatia), as well as the negative permutations (Azerbaijan or Serbia). The most changes happen in Switzerland. Their balance is still the same, but instead of “Boys Do Cry” and “In Love For A While”, it would have been “Unbreakable” and “Apollo” in the final. Below you can see all changes per country.

🇦🇱 Albania
In: Sekret (2022)
Out: Mall (2018) /
Karma (2021)
🇭🇺 Hungary
Out: Sound Of Our Hearts (2012) /
Wars For Nothing (2015)
🇦🇲 Armenia
In: Boom Boom (2011)
🇮🇪 Ireland
In: Heartbeat (2014)
Out: It’s For You (2010)
🇦🇺 Australia
Out: Don’t Come Easy (2017)
🇮🇱 Israel
Out: Milim (2010) /
Made of Stars (2016)
🇦🇹 Austria
Out: Running On Air (2017)
🇱🇻 Latvia
In: Cake To Bake (2014)
🇦🇿 Azerbaijan
Out: Start A Fire (2014) /
Hour of the Wolf (2015) /
Fade To Black (2022)
🇱🇹 Lithuania
In: Eastern European Funk (2010) /
Run With The Lions (2019)
Out: C’est ma vie (2011)
🇧🇾 Belarus
In: I Love Belarus (2011) /
Help You Fly (2016)
Out: Like It (2019)
🇲🇹 Malta
Out: This Is The Night (2012) /
Coming Home (2014)
🇧🇪 Belgium
Out: The Wrong Place (2021)
🇲🇪 Montenegro
Out: Moj Svijet (2014)
🇧🇦 Bosnia & Herzegovina
In: Ljubav Je (2016)
Out: Thunder and Lightning (2010)
🇲🇰 North Macedonia
In: Nešto što kje ostane (2009) /
Dona (2016)
🇧🇬 Bulgaria
In: Love Unlimited
🇳🇴 Norway
In: Haba Haba (2011)
🇭🇷 Croatia
In: Tick-Tock (2021)
🇳🇱 The Netherlands
In: You & Me (2012)
Out: Outlaw In ‘Em (2018)
🇨🇾 Cyprus
In: Ela (2022)
🇵🇱 Poland
In: Light Me Up (2018) /
Pali Się (2019)
🇨🇿 Czech Republic
In: Hope Never Dies (2015)
Out: I Stand (2016)
🇵🇹 Portugal
In: Quero Ser Tua (2014)
🇩🇰 Denmark
In:  Øve Os På Hinanden (2021)
Out: Love Is Forever (2019) /
Where I Am (2017)
🇷🇸 Serbia
Out: Čaroban (2011)
🇪🇪 Estonia
In: Verona (2017)
Out: Rockefeller Street (2011)
🇸🇪 Sweden
In: This Is My Life (2010)
🇫🇮 Finland
In: Työlki Ellää (2010) /
Aina Mun Pitää (2015) /
Blackbird (2017)
🇨🇭 Switzerland
In: Unbreakable (2012) /
Apollo (2017)
Out: In Love For A While (2011) /
Boys Do Cry (2022)
🇬🇪 Georgia
Out: Midnight Gold (2016)
🇹🇷 Turkey
In: Live It Up (2011)
🇬🇷 Greece
In: Oniro Mou (2018)
🇺🇦 Ukraine
Out: Be My Guest (2012)
Czech Republic: Not the victim people thought they’d be

We want to hear your thoughts on these changes to the voting system. Let us know if you think this will benefit or impact the contest in the comments below and on social media @ESCXTRA on TwitterFacebookTikTokMastodon and YouTube.

Nick van Lith

I'm one of the founding members of ESCXTRA.com. Eleven years after the start, I'm proud to say that I am now the Editor-in-Chief of this wonderful website. When I'm not doing Eurovision stuff, you should be able to find me teaching German to kids... And cheering on everything and everyone Greek, pretty much. Pame Ellada!

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