Eurovision draw to steady the ship

by Benny Royston 60 views

One of the most dominant themes of the Eurovision Song Contest for decades has been the so-called political voting. In recent years, neighbourly voting has become a nuicance for many, and since the start of the semi final system in 2004, a strong rise in diaspora voting has upset many fans and commentators of the event. The move to introduce a two semi final system in 2008 was made in response to the increasing call to address this problem, but will it succeed?

Diaspora voting, a term first coined by esctoday.com in 2006, has become increasingly apparent in voting patterns at the Eurovision Song Contest in recent years. The first signs appeared when televoting replaced the jury system and it has become particularly apparent since the semi final system was adopted in 2004, strongly affecting the qualifying countries from the semi final every year.

It is hoped that the two semi-final system will reduce the impact of this phenomenon at the Eurovision Song Contest, and signs from the weekend's reference group meeting show that the EBU is looking for a formula to limit its impact in the semi final.

Using statistical data to divide countries into pots before the draw is made looks like a clear sign that the EBU has found a method for splitting countries based not merely on their geographical position or voting history, but a mixture of both.

Although some have argued in favour of splitting the former Yugoslav and former Soviet Union countries between the two semi finals, diaspora voting shows that Turkey gains many of its points every year from countries such as Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, where large Turkish populations reside. The large Lithuanian population in Ireland now sees the Irish twelve points head to the Baltic every year, so will we see an attempt to separate Ireland and Lithuania into separate semi finals?

What is becoming clearer is that despite accusations from many fans, the EBU is clearly listening to the fans of the competition andnational broadcasters whohave suffered from declining viewing figures in recent years. It is actively looking for ways to appease concerns. All EBU member countries have an equal right to enter the Eurovision Song Contest, however, a clear intention can be detectedto ensure that the competition is as fair and balanced as it can be.

esctoday.com will bring you more news and comment on the new Eurovision Song Contest format as it becomes known.