Why was Belarus given dummy jury results at Eurovision 2019?

The Belarusian vote surprised all. Even the hosts were in shock that Israel, the hosting country sitting dead last with awkward nul points at that moment, just received top 12 points from the jury of Belarus.

Belarus’ confusing jury vote

People soon found the Belarusian jury ‘favoured’ any song towards the bottom of the scoreboard. First time in a long while Russia missed the final, did Belarus just decided to cut it loose?

The EBU was quick the next day to announce in a statement that the Belarusian jury result was miscalculated.

Here’s what happened.

Belarusian jurors for Eurovision 2019 somehow let the cat out of the bag and revealed their votes vaguely on a live show. EBU didn’t like it, and the jury got dismissed.

ZENA: ‘Let’s break the rules.’ (Eurovision 2019 Belarus)

According to the rules, in this situation, Belarus’ jury result shall be replaced by the average voting results of other countries’ in the same ‘pot’ (countries with similar tastes, usually geographically connected), as EBU calls it ‘a substitute aggregated result’. In this case, that would be Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia.

Yet a common but obvious mistake was made again by EBU – they got the result backwards. In the statement, EBU threw suppliers digame and E&Y under the bus to take the responsibility jointly. The official scoreboard was then updated with minor changes.

Not many people understand the voting, even without the incident anyway. The rules are just complicated. This is not even the only mistake at this year’s Eurovision, with THREE backward voting incidents ignored in semi-finals.

Some argue, why does EBU have to bother replacing Belarus’ jury vote with a dummy one? Just cancel it. Who would’ve cared?

Here’s why. One country cannot award points to itself. If a country clearly has a shot at the trophy, it may resist awarding points to its competitors in the running.

For example, in 2017, Bulgaria as one of the fan favourites did not give any points to popular countries with a chance to win. Some may argue, that the Bulgarian jury had a quirky taste that year. The country ended up second place losing to Portugal.

Bulgaria voting in Eurovision 2017

So, if the rule just cancels the fouling jury’s vote without replacement, some countries may be asking for that deliberately. They wouldn’t risk giving opponent points. That could be an advantage.

Also, the iconic points announcing segment now announces jury and televoting results separately. The EBU wouldn’t shame the participating broadcaster and hang up on its spokesperson.

Eventually, Eurovision needs to be taken seriously to be fun. But taking it too seriously results in unfair means in the voting. That’s where the super complicated rules come in.

But don’t unreadable rules hurt the game too?

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