What’s wrong with the voting procedure?

The Eurovision Song Contest is divided into distinct segments: The opening, the performances, the interval act, the voting procedure, awarding of the trophy and winner’s reprise. Many tend to view the opening, interval act and of course the performances as the key parts of the show and with good reason. However, these days many do not view the voting procedure as having much, if any, entertainment value.

Of course, this was different back in the olden days when the participants list was twenty or less. In those days, the voting was nail-biting, dramatic and, as the co-host of the 1988 Contest put it, could have been “written by Agatha Christie“, so close were the finishes and difference between first, second and even third place.

These days, with forty-odd countries having a say, the winner becomes quite apparent two-thirds of the way through the voting procedure, when the margin between first and second place steadily becomes bigger and impossible to surpass even if that country stops collecting points.

I believe the EBU won’t change the now-famous Borda Count system that is used to calculate the points as it synonymous with Eurovision and was what birthed the legendary ‘douze points’ saying, nor do I want them to change it. There is much history and nostalgia in the voting procedure that changing it would undoubtedly change the essence of the contest altogether.

Which poses the problem: How do we spice up the voting procedure to make it more interesting for the modern Eurovision? Well, the way I see it, there are two options:

1) Electronically Determine The Voting Order: This was briefly discussed by certain members of the Eurovision Reference Group and I think could work. After having collected all the points from the countries, they could be fed into a program that will generate the order in which countries will vote based on the final ranking that will give a more suspenseful voting. To take an example, say that after all the points have been collected, the Scrutineer finds that Switzerland have won. He would then use a program to arrange the voting order in such way so that the countries that gave Switzerland little or no points would vote first and countries that gave the country higher points last. Therefore, during the actual televised voting procedure, it would appear that Switzerland is doing badly but, as the voting progresses, would eventually win. It’s a smart idea and would add drama and take away from some of predictability of the voting. Critics said it could give way to manipulation of the result, but I say that’s rubbish, as we are not manipulating the actual result, but only the way in which that result is revealed. I really hope that this is explored and implemented. This, combined with the re-introduction of professional juries and the burgeoning realisation of countries that, at the end of the day, the best song does win, could further bring the Eurovision Song Contest back to the glory days of old.

2) Make The Voting Procedure More Entertaining: How? By using the spokespersons. I have noticed that there are certain spokespersons that really make the voting procedure enjoyable and amusing with either their onscreen antics or charisma. Unfortunately, these spokespersons are few and far between and I really believe that participating broadcasters should invest a little more time and effort into selecting someone who will deliver the country’s result in an engaging manner. This is most advantageous if one did not qualify, as the spokesperson would be the country’s only representation in the Grand Final itself. All the more reason to put your best foot forward. To further elaborate, I will be writing another article about what makes an ideal Eurovision spokesperson, because my word count is telling me that I’m pushing it.

There are rumours milling around that the EBU will be making changes and we will be hearing something by the end of this week. I’m really hoping they’ll be introducing the electronic voting order. The fact that they haven’t conducted a draw at this year’s Head of Delegation’s Meeting adds fuel to the speculation.

I hope you enjoyed this article. What do you think can be done to make the voting procedure more entertaining? Let’s hear your ideas in the ‘Comments’ section!

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