Is there a Eurovision migrant effect?

Poland's Michal Szpak performs the song Colour Of Your Life Image copyright AP

This year's Eurovision voting system allowed viewers to compare the televotes for a given song with the votes of the national juries. In the case of the Polish song, there was a big difference. Could this be connected to the number of Poles living in other European countries?

Poland's song, the Colour of Your Life performed by Michal Szpak, received just seven votes from the national juries - which are made up of people in the music business - but a whacking 222 votes from telephone voters.

The song was second to last in the votes from the juries, but took third position in the telephone vote, finishing eighth overall.

BBC Eurovision commentator Graham Norton spotted what was happening.

"Now this is extraordinary," he said. "Poland just got seven from the jury vote and look at them now - they are going to get a massive percentage of the phone vote. Euro-nerds are going to have a field day analysing those votes."

So how did Poland do it?

Maybe the music industry is out of touch with popular tastes? It's notable that the British and Czech entries were both liked a lot more by the juries than by the televoters.

But could there also be a migrant effect?

Eurovision rules mean that people cannot vote for their own country's song. So, for example, British people cannot vote for the British Eurovision entry, and Poles cannot vote for the Polish entry… unless they live in another country.

There are large numbers of Poles living in other European countries.

According to the UK's Office for National Statistics, some 400,000 people born in Poland are working in the UK, and there are many more than that in Germany.

Votes for Poland in countries with most Polish migrants
Country Televotes
Germany 10
UK 10
Austria 12
France 7
Italy 10
Sweden 10
Netherlands 10
Ireland 10
Belgium 12
Spain 5
Source: Eurovision

According to Polish government statistics, the 10 European countries with the most Polish residents are Germany, the UK, Austria, France, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium and Spain.

In all but two of these countries (France and Spain), televoters awarded the Polish song 10 or 12 votes, according to the Eurovision results spreadsheet. On average these 10 countries awarded Poland 9.6 votes, while the other 31 countries gave the Polish entry an average of only four votes each.

The only other country which gave Poland a big vote was Iceland - there the number of Poles is not huge, but they still compose the biggest migrant group.

But if Poles are voting for their homeland they are not doing so blindly. Last year their song didn't do well and there was no sign of a migrant effect. So perhaps only if the song is good will the diaspora get behind it.

Subscribe to the BBC News Magazine's email newsletter to get articles sent to your inbox.

Related Topics