The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has announced major changes in the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 voting system.
Why? The EBU states that as the Eurovision Song Contest is approaching its 70th anniversary, in order to keep the event relevant and exciting the format is regularly updated to make sure it continues to thrive. And secondly, due to voting irregularities observed during the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 a working group of EBU Members was established to analyse different ways to protect the integrity of the event. Its recommendations were then approved by the governing board of the Contest and the Executive Board of the EBU and the Reference Group.
37 countries will compete in the 67th Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool, UK on 9th, 11th and 13th May 2022.
31 countries will compete for 20 places in the Grand Final alongside France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the host that is the United Kingdom and 2022 ESC Winner Ukraine.
The contest is hosted by the BBC in the UK on behalf of Ukraine after last year’s Kalush Orchestra’s victory for their homeland in Turin in May 2022.
These main changes mentioned above are as following:
- Only the general public votes will decide which countries are to qualify from Semi-finals to the Grand Final.
- Viewers in non-participating countries will be able to vote on-line.
- Jury votes will, as before, be combined with the general public votes to decide the final result.
The voting system including a combination of a jury and public voting both in the Semi-finals and the Grand Final has been in force since 2010.
What is a complete novelty is the fact that countries which do not take part in the contest will be able to vote for their favourite entries in the on-line voting. Their votes will be added together and then converted into points which will have the same weight as one of the participating countries in two Semi-finals and the Grand Final.
Professional juries, made up of those working in the music industry, will continue to contribute to the result of the Grand Final along with viewers in each participating country and those voting internationally.
This will affect the 50/50 percentage balance between jury points and public points somewhat, giving the general public slightly more impact on the final result – approximately 50.6%.
This step is surely caused by the fact that the Eurovision Song Contest is popular not only in Europe and Australia but also on different continents and now they’ll be able to cast their votes. What’s more, this will promote the Contest worldwide even more.
Audiences in all participating countries will still be able to vote by phone, SMS or via the Eurovision Song Contest application.
Those watching the Contest in the rest of the world will be able to vote via a secure online platform using a credit card from their own country to ensure that the voting is fair. EBU’s Voting Partner will ensure that only audiences from countries allowed to vote online will be able to vote and be charged respectively. The full list of eligible countries will be published close to the time of the event.
What should be stressed here is the fact that juries of each country taking part in each Semi-final, will still cast their votes but they will only be used if a valid televote is not recorded or possible in a given country.
Still, if irregular patterns are observed in any country’s jury voting in the Semi-finals (although their votes no longer count to determine the results of the Semi-finals) that jury will be dismissed and will not vote in the Grand Final. And if in the Grand Final, any national jury is disqualified, the points awarded from the public voting in that country will be doubled and used as a substitute so that the same number of total points are awarded by each country taking part in the Contest.
If there is not a valid televote or jury vote in any participating country then a result based on the votes from countries with similar voting records will be used.
A draw to determine which countries will perform in which Semi-final is still obligatory and will take place at the end of January. EBU states that this is to ensure that “all songs have the best possible chance to qualify for the Grand Final by reducing diaspora voting and separating countries with similar voting patterns.”
What effect will this change in the voting system have on the final list of qualified countries in the Grand Final and the final result?
As the EBU states they analysed the results of the ESC together with their Voting Partner and discovered that, in nearly all cases (years 2017-2022), when removing the jury results from the calculation, 9 out of the 10 qualifying countries from each Semi-final stayed the same.
On the official EBU website it is also stated that songs qualified for the Grand Final on the basis of the previous system, which would have missed out if only viewer votes had been counted, in most cases, finished at lower positions of the scoreboard in the Grand Final.
However, if the countries that qualify from each of the two Semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest are decided only on the basis of the general public votes, this may negatively influence the quality of songs and lead to the situation when so called ‘ambitious’ songs which can be of a very high music level but not so catchy and popular among the public can lose in the Semi-final and not make it to the Grand Final. On the other hand, this will motivate composers to create such songs that will be attractive to the audience and at the same time of very high quality that will attract jury votes in the Grand Final. Will this result in songs even better than so far? What other consequences will this change bring about?