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  • Dale

Eurovision bloc voting - who are Australia's friends and foes?

Eurovision is best known for a few things – questionable music, camp and kitschy staging and of course…. politics.

Although not as pronounced as in previous decades voting blocs popped up because of historical allegiances, diaspora communities and just straight out musical taste. Prime examples of this is vote swapping between Greece and Cyprus, the Scandinavian and Balkan blocs, eastern European votes to Mother Russia and German votes to Turkey (owing to the large community residing there).

Two years ago Australia entered the contest and immediately the question was asked… where on earth are we going to fit among this?

There was an immediate assumption there’d be an almost free trade style agreement of 12 points between Australian and our colonial ‘parents’ the UK (often the loudest critics of bloc voting, unless it suits them of course) with a strong showing from our cousins, Ireland.

Additionally we expected that votes may come our way from our connections through our multicultural population. Much of Eurovision’s popularity in Australia comes from our large migrant population, particularly from the Mediterranean nations Italy and Greece. Would their strong connections back home translate to votes?

Well after two years of competing and thankfully due to strong showings in both years, we have enough voting data to analyse and work our friends from our foes.

Looking at the three times all countries could vote for us (the 2015 final, the 2016 jury vote and the 2016 televote) we worked out how many points each nation gave us out of the possible 36 points on offer. So let’s start with the good guys… the top 10 were:

1. Sweden – 36 points

2. Denmark – 28 points

2. Norway – 28 points

4. Albania – 27 points

4. Austria – 27 points

6. Iceland – 26 points

7. The Netherlands - 25 points

7. Poland – 25 points

9. United Kingdom - 24 points

10. Hungary - 23 points

We see a pretty striking trend here with the top three nations all from Scandinavia and Sweden has given us every single point they’ve had since we’ve entered.

There are recently cultural ties between the two nations. We gave Abba their big break, they love backpacking here and we both used to be tennis power houses (ok I struggled with the last point).

It’s a trend that hasn’t been lost on SBS and the Isaiah Firebrace team. His winning X Factor single and his Eurovision single were both released and heavily promoted in Sweden and Denmark. The winning single charted higher there than it did in Australia.

The United Kingdom have made the list but are quite far down in 9th. Are we getting a bit of territorial tom cattery here? Perhaps a slight jealousy their colony has grown up to out-do them where they have begun to recently fail so spectacularly? (And can we add, without an Anglo-Saxon singer in sight).

To be fair to the UK they have actually given us more points than any other in the last two years (only just ahead of Lithuania – what’s going on their Brits?), it just hasn’t been as many as other nations.

Now on to our foes…. The countries that hate us, or perhaps more accurately don’t like our music or us being there, are:

1. Czech Republic – 1 point

2. Montenegro – 4 points

3. Armenia – 6 points

4. France – 8 points

5. Azerbaijan – 9 points

5. Georgia – 9 points

7. Russia – 10 points

8. Ireland – 11 points

8. Slovenia – 11 points

8. FYR Macedonia – 11 points

Well unsurprisingly the list is dominated by Eastern Europe. This probably comes down to a number of factors – musical taste, lack of historical ties and a stronger feeling among them that we don’t belong at Eurovision.

And to be fair to this group they are still giving us points, even Russia gave us points at every possibility (something we haven’t reciprocated), but just not particularly high.

Though this doesn’t include Czech Republic. One measly point Prague? I’m sorry you’re now dead to me.

The VERY interesting part of this is France in 4th (an old powerhouse not happy with us there?) and our friends Ireland both the list in 8th? The betrayal Ireland, how could you?!? We thought we were mates!

Additionally another potential ally, Italy, was just outside the top 10 in 11th place. I think we need Lygon Street to start making a few calls back to the motherland.

The slightly worrying side of this is that five out of the top six ‘haters’ are in our semi-final next week and will be voting. Though on the flip side we have our friends Sweden, Iceland, Albania (thought that’s an interesting one) and UK voting.

But as much as we can use politics, bias and allegiances as an excuse for a nation doing well or not, what is really comes down to is… how good is the song? Winners have come, and points have flowed from both east and west. If your song is good, you can sing and perform it well live - you can win.

Australia arrived out of the blue and not particularly wanted by many fans. However we’ve produced two excellent songs and have been rewarded with 5th and 2nd place and at least one point from every nation. It’s a phenomenal record.

So in the end, does politics and voting blocs matter, does it help and/or hinder nations? Well to paraphrase two powerful women, former Australian Prime Minster Julia Gillard and Eurovision host extraordinaire Petra Mede:

It doesn’t explain everything about results at Eurovision, nor does it explain nothing. But if you can be the best, you can win the Eurovision Song Contest.

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