I am drinking beer in a Brussels bar talking about European politics. Over the course of the evening the conversation turns to the Eurovision Song Contest – and what it reveals about national sentiments.
I love Eurovision. Along with millions of people across Europe, I’ll be glued to the screen this Saturday night for the 63rd Eurovision Song Contest. There are a multitude of ways to enjoy the event. For some it’s about the inclusivity; other people relish the cheesy nature of the event; I believe there are even people that enjoy the music.
I get my kicks from the incredible data the show produces – and the picture that emerges from analysis of those data. For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, Eurovision provides the opportunity for millions of citizens across Europe to express their feelings about other countries. Unshackled from concerns about diplomatic relations, a true picture of regional dynamics emerges.
The Vedette infographic below shows the major net flows of points between countries over recent Eurovision events (normalising thousands of data points against average scores for each state). Some of the links are pretty intuitive: voters in Greece seem to have a real passion for Cypriot tunes and vice versa. Look a bit more widely though and it is clear that a range of factors come into play in terms of the drivers. Trade links, cultural and historical connections, presence of large diaspora communities all seem to be important drivers. Not all relationships are equal though: pity poor Finland who seems to be caught in something of a love triangle with Estonia and Latvia.
Join me on Saturday night? Bring a bottle and don’t forget your laptop.