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MPs' Eurovision Concerns Unfounded – University of Reading

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MPs' Eurovision Concerns Unfounded

Release Date 16 May 2007

Dr Alan Howard, from the University of Reading's School of Human and Environmental Sciences, believes MPs' worries over the voting system used in the Eurovision Song Contest are unwarranted.

Following Serbia's win in this year's Eurovision Song Contest there has been an outcry about political and neighbourly voting, making an Eastern European winner a foregone conclusion. Consequently, countries like Ireland and Malta are re-considering their participation in the contest.

On May 15, four MPs tabled a motion calling for a change in the voting system, voicing concerns that it is "harmful to the relationship between the peoples of Europe".

Dr Howard tested the "block voting" hypothesis by identifying those countries to have received a high score (eight, 10, or 12 points) from another country at least five times in the past 10 years.

The results indicate neighbourly voting between countries in Scandinavia, the Baltic, the Balkans, and (of course) between Greece and Cyprus but this has not been significant in determining the outcome of any of the annual contests.

Beneficiaries of neighbourly voting have won six times in the past 10 years but could not have done so without support from many more countries across Europe.

Instead, Dr Howard believes the winner is determined by public's perception of what makes a great Eurovision song, including lyrics, performance and hit potential.

Based on a survey of 1500 fans and their attitudes to Eurovision, Dr Howard created a computer model to predict the results of the 2007 contest.

Combined with data from a last minute poll of fans from 34 countries, Dr Howard's model predicted Serbia to be a clear winner. He also predicted that Turkey (4th in the contest) and Ukraine (2nd) would feature in the top-5.

On the night, Serbia received votes from 38 of the 42 voting countries, including votes from every Western European participant except the UK. Likewise, Russia in second place gained votes from 39 countries.

Dr Howard says "It was clear before the contest that fans from over two dozen East and West European countries had identified Serbia as a stand-out performer and likely Eurovision winner. Perhaps their performance on the night didn't live up to the pre-contest hype, but in the minds of many fans the voting decision had been made.

"There is hope for our Eurovision future. When Jessica Garlick came 3rd in 2002 for the UK, she gained points from most Balkan and Baltic States. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 hardly helped but when Jemima sang a quarter-octave flat throughout their performance and 'nul points' was surely deserved. Eurovision is a fun contest and those who politicise it are missing the point."

Further details and a complete list of results visit http://www.songcontestvoting.com/eurovision/blockvoting.asp

Ends

For all media enquiries, please contact University of Reading Press Assistant James Barr tel 0118 378 7115 or email j.w.barr@reading.ac.uk

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