Empirical Economics

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 403–425 | Cite as

The structure of bias in peer voting systems: lessons from the Eurovision Song Contest

  • Laura Spierdijk
  • Michel Vellekoop
Open Access
Original Paper


This paper assesses whether and how common characteristics of jury members or peer voters affect the outcomes of voting systems. In particular, we analyze to what extent these common features result in voting bias. We take as a case study the Eurovision Song Contest for which an extensive amount of historical data is available. In contrast to earlier studies we analyze the impact of common factors on the bias individually for each country, which is necessary to substantiate the publicly debated accusations of regional block voting by certain groups of countries. We establish strong evidence for voting bias in the song contest on the basis of geography, even after correction for culture, language, religion and ethnicity. However, these effects do generally not correspond to the usual accusations. We believe that our findings extend to all instances where groups of jury members or peer voters share certain common factors, which may cause voting bias. It is important to identify such structures explicitly, as it can help avoiding bias in the first place.


Voting systems Peer voting Expert judgement Eurovision Song Contest 


Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and Econometrics, Faculty of Economics and BusinessUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Financial Engineering Laboratory and the Department of Applied Mathematics, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer ScienceUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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