Eurovision, how to choose the winner?

The Obsession for Competition

Nowadays, competition is everywhere! The entertainment industry, the media, the education system and the social networks keep delivering us rankings to determine our tastes, our preferences, and choices. Survey mechanisms and specific poll systems are used feed this never ending hunger for rankings of people and products, for example:

The approval system: it is symbolized by the use of blue thumbs. The product which obtains the most thumbs is considered as the best.

The ranking system: in general, the points are delivered according to how we value the importance of the product. The “Ballon d’Or” award illustrates this system: the vote is limited to a panel journalists and Football field representatives. Each jury member chooses 5 players : the first one get 6 points, the second one gets 4 points, the third one gets 3 and the fourth one gets 1 point. Three criteria should be respected by the jury: the performance of the player, his success over the year, his charisma and his fair play ability:still this poll is subjective. Among polling systems, the Condorcet one is not based on points scale to determine a winner.

Unlike other ranking mechanisms, the Condorcet system enables users to place several choices on the same rank. This method is more flexible and provides a more faithful representation of the “community’s” view.

The Eurovision Song Contest: a Good Method?

Points table

The Eurovision Song Contest illustrates this competition obsession. To rank the contestants, the European competition use a points system, (just like the “Ballon d’Or” award), which is known as the Borda system. Each country has its own (5 members) jury. Each member ranks the contestants except for those from their own countries. Then, points are delivered to the top 10, following the point system presented in this table.

By using this system, the Eurovision Song Contest promoter, the European Broadcasting Union ban the possibility to rank several contestants at the same position. This system enables the viewers of each countries to participate to the poll process, the global ranking from viewers of a given country is obtained through approval, and then a points calculation is made following the rules of a Borda system.

And with the Condorcet Method?

The Borda method can be seen as subjective, because the points are attributed to each the rank. To overcome this limitation, the Condorcet method can be used. This system enables users to obtain a consensus, that is to say to identify a choice which would fulfill the majority of voters’ expectations. The Condorcet method is based on a duel mechanism between each pair of contestants. The winner is the one who wins against each opponent. Open Agora’s products are based on this system. So, we have decide to determine the results of this competition if the Condorcet algorithm was used instead of Borda. Therefore, we have collected  Eurovision’s detailed votes  and then used our own algorithms to compute the results applying the Condorcet method.

Condorcet A: synthesis of jury member’s votes + viewers’ votes synthesis
Condorcet B: Individuals votes from the 5 jury members + 5 copies of the viwers’ votes

The analysis of Condorcet results for the Eurovision Song Contest:

On the whole, the results are very similar: the first two contestants (Israel and Cyprus) reach the same position no matter of the system used. However, between the third and sixth position, several changes can be seen: those ranks are very close to each other in the Borda ranking, yet the Condorcet method highlights countries like Germany or Czech Republic (or even Norway) which obtain a better consensus than with the Borda system.

Interesting point: the Condorcet system enables to simplify the process of the votes aggregation, by avoiding an intermediary step. By using this method (1 ranking for each member of jury from each countries, and 5 identical rankings for the viewer rank), we obtain a very similar result to the previous one. However, the Condorcet method highlights countries such as Italy were well ranked by the jury members, but spread over different countries, therefore, Borda results do not perfectly reflect the jury’s opinion.

A Daily Poll System?

There exists some solutions to use this Condorcet poll system on a daily basis such as the Instant Agora application, created by Open Agora. Instant Agora is characterized by an excellent ergonomic and by an ease of use. Expressing yourself couldn’t be easier !

By analyzing the results’ gap, we can observe a better consistency, or even a better representation of a group’s point of view.

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