Saturday, May 18, 2013

No Bloc Voting Effect for ESC 2013

The bookies are ready to claim with assuring confidence that Danish Emmelie de Forest's "Only Teardrops" as the winner of Eurovision 2013 with some pundits calling it a Denmark vs. Norway race to the top. However, this year is quite an interesting year - a year where there no standout songs within the two major voting blocs this year: Scandinavia and the former countries of the Soviet Union. Normally, one country in each of these blocs would have a standout song that neighboring countries would concentrate on giving their votes and top tier of points. This year is different and goes into uncharted waters in modern Eurovision history. 

As stated before, Norway and Denmark are the bookies' favorites, Sweden is the press favorite, Finland is gaining traction with an edgy performance, and Iceland exceeded expectations in rehearsals and on Thursday. The entire bloc is filled with frontrunners and dark horses. It gets equally complicated when you head east to the former Soviet countries. Russia and Ukraine stayed consistently in the Top 5 of betting odds. Azerbaijan's betting odds have improved in a similar pattern to that of 2011. Georgia is one of the press favorites with some speculations that they won the 2nd Semifinal. Furthermore, never count out Armenia, which has consistently done well and rarely placed close to last in the final. So, who votes for who? For a typical Scandinavian or former Soviet voter, this would be a tough call. All of the top points from these voting blocs may be split and be distributed more evenly than in the past. 

To complicate things further, this year, an entire voting bloc, the former Yugoslavian countries, has been completely destroyed in their respective semifinals. We all know that this bloc has been particularly one of the most predictive blocs voting-wise. Hypothetically speaking, if one former Yugoslavian country qualified, the Scandinavian and ex-Soviet blocs would not be affected because the that lone former Yugoslavian qualifier would maximize its monopoly from its bloc as much as possible. As a result, I predict that there will not be any voting patterns from former Yugoslavia because it will be the first time in Eurovision history that the Yugoslavians have no neighbor to focus on. This will mean a chaotic, unknown distribution of their top points.

While the clearly audible cheers for Emmelie de Forest in tiny Malmo Arena have gamblers and pundits ready to call it a shut-and-close case for Eurovision 2013, the set of conditions we have this year are unprecedented and will give rise to a perfect storm. And even if Denmark's Emmelie de Forest wins, the actual results may be much closer than a lot of people think. Get ready Europe for shockers and surprises for Saturday night.


  1. Very nice posting and extremely pragmatic. I have one question for you: where would you place Romania this year? The song is definitely different and it creates controversy...If no voting blocks,do you think that countries like Romania or Italy could take advantage?

  2. I like to compare Romania 2013 to Sweden 2009 with similar style of mixing pop and opera. If Malena Ernman's flop is any indicator, Romania will not have a successful year this year. There is a defined Top Tier of favorites that will most likely make up the Top 10 (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Germany). Unless we see Romania do something to upstage these countries, I would not bet on Romania making a Top 10 finish at all.

    Before rehearsals, I had Italy in my Top 3 to win the entire competition. The song is superb. Marco sings it wonderfully. Juries would most likely end up loving this if Marco's performance had a bit more finesse. Italy can however benefit if the televoting is close and distributed without any indication of bloc voting. Italy benefited in a similar way in 2011, but Italy also benefited because the Juries put Italy first. So, televoting-wise, Italy will not win. Italy needs a set of conditions to win. Will Italy get first place in the Juries? Judging the performance in rehearsals - it's too minimalist and lacks the finesse to complete the package. Italy is still a country to track tonight, but Italy is no longer on my shortlist to win this.