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Evidence of bias in the Eurovision song contest: modelling the votes using Bayesian hierarchical models

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posted on 23.09.2016, 11:22 by Marta Blangiardo, Gianluca Baio

The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual musical competition held among active members of the European Broadcasting Union since 1956. The event is televised live across Europe. Each participating country presents a song and receive a vote based on a combination of tele-voting and jury. Over the years, this has led to speculations of tactical voting, discriminating against some participants and thus inducing bias in the final results. In this paper we investigate the presence of positive or negative bias (which may roughly indicate favouritisms or discrimination) in the votes based on geographical proximity, migration and cultural characteristics of the participating countries through a Bayesian hierarchical model. Our analysis found no evidence of negative bias, although mild positive bias does seem to emerge systematically, linking voters to performers.