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Eurovision Analysis: The Takeaways From Voting Results as Chaos Lingers

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It speaks to the turmoil of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest that in the days after its end, the winner seems to be an afterthought and instead, the focus remains on the divisive nature of the competition.

Nonbinary singer Nemo won with their track “The Code,” totting up an enormous 591 points from a combination of juries in each participating country and the worldwide public. Croatia placed second with 547 points at the event in Malmö, Sweden, after thrilling viewers with an upbeat hit. Ukraine came in third with 453 points. Rounding out the top five were France (445 points) and Israel (375 points).

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But it was a Eurovision that organizers might be in a hurry to forget. Reports of unrest among the contestants and country delegations ran amok on social media. Rumors of entrants missing rehearsals, flags being pulled down and claims of misconduct backstage hugely disrupted the usually peppy Eurovision build-up. The Dutch participant Joost Klein was disqualified on the day of the Grand Final after an allegation of intimidation was made to Swedish police by a female member of the production crew.

Organizers have pledged to review all of the controversy after Irish entrant Bambie Thug said they raised “multiple complaints” with Eurovision bosses, accusing Israeli broadcaster Kan of “inciting violence” against them. The European Broadcasting Union said that they “regret” some delegations did not “respect the spirit of the rules” and that a review with governing bodies and the delegations will take place.

The contention at the event began with the inclusion of Israeli entrant Eden Golan, the 20-year-old singer who became a lightning rod for protestors condemning Israel’s war in Gaza, which has left nearly 35,000 Palestinians dead, according to a new United Nations estimate, mostly women and children, since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that killed around 1,200 people. Eurovision fans pledged to boycott the event, objecting to the barrage of missile strikes on Gaza.

Golan, under police protection across the week because of death threats, was booed during her performance, and fellow contestants were vocal about disapproving of her participation. But Israel surprised audiences, placing second in the public vote and coming fifth overall. Here is a look at the main takeaways from the voting and viewership numbers of Eurovision 2024.

1. The Gap Between Audience and Jury Votes

The Eurovision voting system is an intricate one and has often led to confusion in the past. Winners are tallied through a combination of public votes from viewers and individual votes from juries of music industry professionals representing each participating country. Each jury, made up of five people, gives out 12 points to their top performance and 10 points to their second choice. Their third choice receives eight points, fourth choice seven points — and so on, all the way down to one. The remaining countries get zero points. In total, 25 countries participated in this year’s Eurovision final.

Viewers watching at home could submit as many votes as they liked, which were counted and awarded in the same 12-1 point format. For the first time this year, viewers watching from non-participating nations were also able to join in and cast votes online (but their collective votes equaled the weight of just one country). Viewers are not able to submit votes for their own country.

In previous Eurovision contests, audience and juries have rarely agreed on the same winner — the last time this happened was seven years ago, when Portugal’s Salvador Sobral wowed Europe with his love ballad “Amar Pelos Dois.”

But this year, there were a few particularly clear discrepancies between jury and public opinion. The U.K.’s Olly Alexander placed a not-so-bad 13th with the juries, but landed dead last — with zero points — among the public. Overall, he came in 18th out of 25 contenders. The juries also appeared to enjoy Portugal’s Iolanda, who performed “Grito” and found herself at seventh in their judgment, but the public disagreed — Iolanda came in only 20th on that leaderboard. Her overall ranking: 10th.

The jury and public very nearly agreed on their top five, but Israel’s Golan proved to be a notable exception. Croatia, Switzerland, Ukraine and France all made the highest spots on both points tables — though in different orders — but where Israel had earned second place with the public, it only came 13th in the jury vote.

Israel’s inclusion in the contest sparked outrage leading up to the event. Courtesy of Getty Images

One jury member in Norway, Daniel Owen, took to Instagram after the event to apologize for the eight points his country’s jury awarded Israel. He shed a little light on the voting process, explaining that each jury member votes individually without the opportunity to discuss the allocation of points.

Before the broadcast, the jury was shown an introduction video: “You must not favor or discriminate against any participant based on nationality, gender, suitability, political views, or any reason other than the song and performance. Do not let political views affect how you evaluate a song and/or an artist,” he recalled.

Owen then explained that his political beliefs meant he felt he could not vote for the Israeli entrant, breaching Eurovision rules. He continued: “Given the current situation, it was impossible for me to overlook this. What is happening in Palestine is heartbreaking, and I cannot in any way support Israel’s actions. In my opinion, Israel should not have been allowed to participate in Eurovision at all.”

John Oliver, on HBO’s Last Week Tonight, began his show this week by commenting on the Eurovision results. While lauding the Finnish entrant Windows95Man, Oliver voiced some disappointment that he had come in “dead last” in the jury vote even though “he had won” the audience vote. Finland came second to last in the jury vote, just ahead of Estonia, and 15th in the public vote.

2. Public in Western Countries Enjoy Israel’s Performance

It has occurred before that across all voting countries, the public generally agree on their winner. In 2022, after it was invaded by Russia, Ukraine won the highest amount of public points possible (12) from a huge 28 different countries. It was widely regarded as an emotional mark of global solidarity for Ukraine and its people amid its ongoing war with Russia. Whilst hosting privileges were handed to second-place U.K. for safety and logistical reasons, it was very much Ukraine’s Eurovision the following year.

This year, Israel’s performance earned the most amount of public love out of the entrants, receiving a full 12 points from the public in 15 countries. Notably, they were predominantly Western countries: the U.K., Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, San Marino, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Rest of the World (which, as aforementioned, together counted as one country). Croatia and Ukraine were the only two countries where the public awarded Israel zero points.

Given the widespread coverage of the controversy surrounding Golan’s entry, it is hard to separate the public vote from the implications it makes about wider geopolitical opinion. Eurovision bosses have long believed their event to be nonpolitical, but in recent years the competition is more sharply reflecting the personal viewpoints of voters, as evident in Ukraine’s landslide win.

That said, it is difficult to say what percentage of audience members voted for Israel out of support for the song, the performer, the country, its government, or other reasons entirely. The British, French, German and Australian governments have all been vocal about their support of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel, leading some to suggest the influence of individual countries’ political messaging on the war coming into play. However, Golan was loudly booed at the arena as she performed in both the semi-final and Grand Final. Ultimately, it is impossible to know the motivations of Eurovision voters without more thorough research or polling.

3. Fans Vowed Political Boycott — and Honored It?

Definitive numbers are still being released for many countries, but in the U.K. viewership plummeted by almost 25 percent. Britain, along with France, Spain, Germany and Italy, make up the Eurovision “Big Five.” For their high ratings and financial contribution to Eurovision, the countries’ entrants are automatically guaranteed a spot in the final.

According to agency Digital i, an average of 7.64 million people in the U.K. watched the finale this year, with a peak of 8.46 million. Last year’s finale, held in Liverpool, had a 9.98 million average and an 11 million peak. In 2022, the U.K. had an average viewership of 8.9 million.

It remains hard to establish what was due to a boycott over the conflict in Gaza and what was just plainly viewers not watching, but the hashtag #BoycottEurovision gained traction and trended on X, formerly Twitter, across the week.

4. What About the Music?

It is generally a well-held belief that music akin to pop songs, ballads and dance songs are more likely to win Eurovision than the heavy metal screamers or rock tunes that also feature. To be a Eurovision winner, it must be a palatable track for Eurovision’s huge audience.

The juries in recent years have also seemed to favor a conventional pick over something more eccentric.

And while political motivations have made themselves known in the voting results in recent years, a popular song — normally catchy and fun, or if a ballad, filled with heartfelt emotion — will sway the neutral viewer at home and come out on top.

This would explain Croatia’s performer, Baby Lasagna, winning the public vote in 2024 with “Rim Tim Tagi Dim,” a humorous but still serious commentary on the economic migration of young Croatians. Israel’s romantic ballad “Hurricane” came just before Ukraine’s “Teresa & Maria,” which had a little rap in it. It was a mixed bag.

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