Dr Marta Blanciardo, a statistician at Imperial College London and her colleague Gianluca Baio ran a ‘Bayesian hierarchical formulation’ on voting patterns in Eurovision.
“We took into account factors like the language of the song and the gender of the singer, both of which have known effects on the votes," she said. "This left behind an underlying trend for us to measure. This trend is based on cultural and geographical similarities, as well as migrations of people.”
What she and her colleague uncovered was a distinct tendency among voters from the Nordic countries in particular to give other Nordic countries a high score.
"Many of the countries that are closely related to Sweden either geographically or culturally (most notably, Denmark, Norway and Finland) are associated with higher propensity to score the Swedish act higher points," Blanciardo explained in her paper, which was published at the end of April. "The distribution for Denmark is nearly all above the threshold of 1.96, indicating
a potential positive bias."
However, she stressed that there was no evidence to support the UK's longstanding accusation that its European rivals tactically vote against it, a sentiment famously voiced by Terry Wogan in 2008, when he threatened to resign as a presenter at Eurovision.
“No evidence is found to support the hypothesis that one of the voters systematically ‘discriminates’ against one of the performers. On the other hand, some patterns of positive bias do emerge from the analysis,” she said.
Here's a chart from the study showing which countries could be considered to have a positive bias in favour of Norway. Any score higher than two is considered potentially biased by the two researchers, meaning Sweden, Iceland and Denmark are deemed biased in favour of Norway.
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For Sweden, the bias is even more marked, with Denmark, Norway, Finland and Estonia all giving it special treatment in voting.