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Culturally biased voting in the Eurovision Song Contest: Do national contests differ?


The economic literature on the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) establishes empirical evidence for culturally biased voting, more precisely also biases based on geographical closeness, political relations, ethnical and linguistic affinity. The Bundesvision Song Contest (BSC), a similar contest with principally the same rules but organized on the national level in Germany, offers a unique opportunity to compare international voting bias patterns to national voting bias patterns. Thus, this paper presents an innovative analysis by comparatively analyzing the ESC’s historical data from 1998 to 2014 and the BSC’s data from its beginning in 2005 until 2014 with the same econometric methodology. Our results show that voting biases do not only matter in international contests but also occur in similarly organized national contests with roughly similar magnitude and quality—despite the cultural background of participants and voters being much more homogenous.

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  1. For reasons of completeness, there are also studies analyzing the ESC with special focus put on: ESC used as a lever for economic growth (Fleischer and Felsenstein 2002), the ESC as a proxy variable for explaining European trade (Kokko and Tingvall 2012) or in terms of pure simulations (Baker 2008; García and Tanase 2013).

  2. See

  3. For comparison, there were 40 participating countries in Vienna in 2015.

  4. See

  5. See for the whole chapter.

  6. The name is a combination of the prefix “Bundes” from Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany) and the Eurovision Song Contest.

  7. See

  8. Only from 1998 to 2008, the ESC used an audience-alone voting system. And only from 2014 onwards, the ESC publishes split results for jury and audience voting. However, this data set contains too few observations (to estimate robust results).

  9. To focus on televote only, we also ran a model specification for the years 1998–2008. The only considerable difference is that the variable Capital_Dis and French becomes insignificant when cultural dimensions are included.

  10. When including the (non-significant) dummy variable for the semifinal IDV becomes insignificant in the 2004–2013 specification, religion and most of the cultural dimensions turn out to be insignificant in the 2004–2007 specification.

  11. See;

  12. See

  13. 58 = 12 + 10 + 8 + 7 + 6 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 1.

  14. At this point, the “Overvaluation” already represents our dependent variable bias, in what we go into detail in the following chapter.

  15. We set the word “quality” in quotation marks since we do not want to pretend that this concept represents an indisputable operationalization of a term as difficult as quality of artistic creations and performances. In particular, it can be highly controversial whether majority assessments and evaluations (mass culture or popular culture) represent “quality.” For our purposes, however, it is exactly the deviation from the mass assessment among different groups of voters that we are looking for.

  16. See, e.g., Table 4.

  17. We obtained the length of common border and the neighbor countries from

  18. We did not include a language dummy for the BSC, because songs must be sung in German; see Sect. 3.2.

  19. We have obtained the language variable from the French Research Center in international economics (Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Informations Internationales (CEPII) and CIA World Factbook, see

  20. For the period 1968–1972, Hofstede conducted an extensive cross-cultural investigation for a sample of forty countries. The aim of his study was to show the fundamental differences in how people from different countries experience and interpret their world. The research project was carried out with 116.000 employees by company IBM with a comparable professional position, but from different nations. Using factor analysis of the received responses, Hofstede constructed four “dimensions” to describe each country’s culture. For each dimension, a country index of each participating nation was calculated. Because culture does not change very fast, the dimensions are still relevant and up to date (see

  21. We have obtained the cultural dimensions from

  22. Also Long Term versus Short Term Normative Orientation and Indulgence versus Restraint are ignored in this study because of high incompleteness.

  23. A high value in Neuroticism refers to a high share of easily depressed and anxious individuals and a low share of extroverted personalities (which are very sociable and talkative), while Openness to Experience stands for creativity, artistic skills and unconventional human beings. The Agreeableness factor represents compassion, cooperation, and trust, while Conscientiousness is characterized by planned and organized behavior (Atkinson et al. 2000).

  24. We have obtained the major religions from

  25. Only OLS is discussed here, since the linear model with fixed effects leads to results that are very similar to those estimated. The same holds for the BSC.

  26. The model still holds for a smaller sample (when the cultural dimensions variables are not included) with countries for which cultural dimensions information is available without any changes in significance.

  27. In an alternative version with a re-constructed point allocation excluding own-state votes, the neighboring bias becomes a bit stronger. This version can be supplied upon request.

  28. GDR, i.e., German Democratic Republic (the former Eastern part of Germany); FRG, i.e., Federal Republic of Germany (the former Western part of Germany).

  29. Basically, the alternative model with point re-allocation excludes the patriotic voters which does not solve the problem of what the counterfactual votes of the patriotic voters would have looked like. Therefore, we chose not to report and discuss it in detail in this paper. Information can be obtained from the authors upon request.


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The authors would like to thank two anonymous referees, Arne Feddersen, Dennis Rickert, Thomas Ostertag, Michael Stützer and Jens Weghake as well as the participants of the 47th Radein Research Seminar (February 2014), the 42nd Hohenheimer Oberseminar (Ilmenau, April 2014), the 18th International Conference on Cultural Economics (Montréal, June 2014) and the 11th World Media Economics and Management Conference (Rio de Janeiro, May 2014) for valuable and helpful comments to earlier versions of the paper. Furthermore, we are thankful to Ina Fredersdorf and Nadine Neute for valuable editorial assistance.

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Correspondence to Julia Pannicke.

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See Tables 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14.

Table 7 Linear voting model, Eurovision Song Contest
Table 8 Country-specific linear voting model, Eurovision Song Contest, 1
Table 9 Country-specific linear voting model, Eurovision Song Contest, continued 2
Table 10 Country-specific linear voting model, Eurovision Song Contest, continued 3
Table 11 Linear voting model, Bundesvision Song Contest
Table 12 Country-specific linear voting model, Bundesvision Song Contest, 1
Table 13 Country-specific linear voting model, Bundesvision Song Contest, continued 2
Table 14 Country-specific linear voting model, Bundesvision Song Contest, continued 3

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Budzinski, O., Pannicke, J. Culturally biased voting in the Eurovision Song Contest: Do national contests differ?. J Cult Econ 41, 343–378 (2017).

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  • Eurovision Song Contest
  • Bundesvision Song Contest
  • Culturally biased voting
  • Media economics
  • Cultural economics

JEL Classification

  • L82
  • Z10