Voting in the Eurovision Song Contest

Yesterday I was made to watch the Eurovision song contest. I went to bed before the voting ended, so I woke up to find that Azerbaijan had won. Which was curious, since they were awful (or perhaps not, since this is Eurovision).

At the official webpage you can get the voting breakdown, where we can see that all the countries I have lived in (Norway, UK and Germany) gave Azerbaijan 0 points. Clearly the Eurovision has been ruined by all these new East-block counties, who in a giant conspiracy who only vote for each other, rendering us western countries with real musical talent without a chance. To confirm my suspicion I grabbed the result table, python, scipy and matplotlib. Compute the correlation matrix for the columns, run PCA on this and plot the first two components (if all that meant nothing to you, the result is that countries who tend to distribute their votes similarly are close to each other in the diagram):

Here the truths are clear as day – there is a Scandinavian conspiracy, Norway and Sweden are really the same country, Denmark is almost the same. Greece and Cyprus is one country (ahem – sorry Turkey, you are not far away). The Eastblock cabal is in the lower right. Malta is nothing like anyone else, it’s almost like it’s an island  ….

I think the only solution is to go back to the 1960 version of Eurovision, the first year that all countries that matter took part.

Seriously though – it’s fun to see how close this is to the actual geography of Europe, rotate the map a bit, and Scandinavia, UK, Italy are all in the right place.

PS: this is also pretty funny, but it seems someone takes this more seriously than perhaps they should: Eurovision Voting Fraud


  1. Give the chart a title and label those axis.

  2. Dear MathsNazi – labelling the axis is tricky. It’s the first two principle component vectors, but the actual coordinates do not really mean anything.
    For a caption, just imagine the title of the post repeated underneath the chart.

  3. Ouh, nice… i’m tempted to call this a Self Organizing Map.

  4. Some striking similarities in certain areas to this one:

  5. If the actual coordinated do not mean anything then the graph does not really mean anything

  6. @mathnazi: No – the relative coordinates mean something, i.e. if Norway is at y=1 and Sweden is at y=1.1, this is meaningful, but the actual number is not. It could equally well have been 10 and 11, or 0.1 and 0.11, or any other number, as long as the relationships remain the same.

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