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'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday 13 May 2007

Eurovision and the questionnable validity of the result

(see UPDATE at end for a link to the full official scoreboard for this year's Eurovision Song Contest)

I've blogged extensively, some might say far too extensively, about Eurovision, but I've just come across a pretty amazingly blasé admission of cheating in a blog I read occasionally (I came across it because it is from Ukraine and it started around the time of the 'Orange Revolution' there). I quote the post in full in case it is modified subsequently, just to show how blatant the manipulation is; if this is replicated by a high number of voters then the whole thing must be regarded as even more of a farce than I have come to believe that Eurovision has become in recent years. Here is the post in full from Neeka's Backlog:

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Serbia has just won the Eurovision - I liked Marija Serifovic's voice.

I voted, like, 14 times for our Verka Serdyuchka (I'm in Moscow, not Kyiv, so I'm allowed to do that), and I also voted four or five times for Romania.

Ukraine came in second, and I'm sort of glad, maybe because we have Euro-2012 to prepare for, and hosting the second Eurovision in three years would've been too much.

Estonia gave 12 points (the highest mark) to Russia.

Turkey gave 12 points to Armenia.

Very strange - and moving.

Then there's all the diaspora voting: "France" giving 10 points to Armenia, "Portugal" giving 12 points to Ukraine.

Israel gave its 8, 10 and 12 points to Russia, Ukraine and Belarus (maybe not in this order, though).

All the former Yugoslav countries voted for Serbia.

Maybe Eurovision should replace politics. Eurovision and the World Cup (football). This would make the world such a passionately friendly place.

by Veronica Khokhlova - 5/13/2007 02:30:00 AM

In theory mutiple votes from one telephone number should be rejected, but who knows if the mechanisms to allow this work? Even if they do there is nothing to stop someone using multiple telephone numbers. Eurovision doesn't matter much, of course, but this open admission of cheating, with no qualms whatsoever, shows just how flawed telephone voting is. I regret to say that Eurovision has now become an embarrassing shambles - unless something radical is done to tighten up the way it operates then I think that we (i.e. the BBC) should consider reducing our financing of it drastically; if that means we don't appear in the final, then so be it. I voted for Ukraine, by the way, but the winning entry from Serbia (whilst much better than the atrocious effort from Bulgaria) was a pretty mediocre effort.

PS/ I posted a comment in Neeka's Weblog post on the Eurovision results:

'Tactical voting' is one thing, but your blatant admission that you may have voted well a dozen times for your own country ('legally' because you happen to be in Moscow) and 4 or five for another just throws into even more doubt the whole validity of the result. For the record I voted, once only(!), for Ukraine.

Here's what Veronica Khokhlova (the person behind Neeka's Weblog) responded in the comments thread:


Yes, I'm a minor cheater. In 2005, I voted more than once for Moldova. Just kept sending SMS's until time ran out.

Part of my reasoning is, if multiple voting weren't allowed, they'd be counting only one vote from each phone number. Technologically, it shouldn't be that hard, right? But I don't think this is the case.

As for the legality of my voting for Ukraine because I "happen to be in Moscow" - well, everyone does it: Ukrainians in Portugal, Armenians in Russia and France, Turks in Germany, etc. It's part of the fun - and also says much about the contemporary migrant and other diaspora communities.

While we're at it, the Russian TV guy in Helsinki said yesterday that from his Russian cell phone number, he was voting for Belarus, and from his Finnish number, he was voting for Russia.

And one off-topic bit - multiple voting is in my blood, I guess: in 2004, I cast three votes for Yushchenko, all 100 percent legal. Was way more fun than voting for Verka Serdyuchka yesterday, though.


You see just how bad things have become. I will be campaigning from now on for us (the UK) to withdraw from this farce. I have no objection to the UK not winning, after all it wasn't a great song (although better than some of the horrible entries we've put up in recent years), but the tactical voting aspect, and the realisation of just how much cheating must be going on, has soured the whole thing for me.

UPDATE: (Monday 14MAY07 10.45 BST) Click here for the final scoreboard for the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest.

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