west vs. east

Sweden and Russia. Despite their geographic proximity and many historical entanglements, these are two countries with rather contrasting reputations, cultures and histories. They both have a very different way of โ€œdoingโ€ Eurovision, too: Sweden with its famed six-week extravaganza where the public decides (as long as the international juries donโ€™t get in their way like this yearโ€ฆ) - Russia, sinceย โ€˜13, behind closed doors.ย 

No matter their selection process, both have become goliaths of latter day ESC. In the last five years, they are the only 2 countries to have received votes from every participating nationย - and the only countries who, since 2012, have picked up more than a thousand points - 1278 for Sweden, 1316 for Russia, both averaging out as comfortably over 250 points received each contest.ย 

I have noticed something of a trend amongst some commentators on the contest to treat Russia and Sweden almost as though they were two superpowers fighting a new cold war through the medium of song and dubious choreography. For me, that doesnโ€™t ring true - and by analysing the data from the 2012-6 contests, one sees that preference for Sweden over Russia is not the West vs East narrative trod by many a lazy TV presenter, but rather North vs South - with the likes of Spain, Portugal, Malta, Greece and Italy lining up behind Russia, and Estonia, Lithuania and Poland preferring Sweden.ย 

Drawing a line across the continent at the 45th parallel north, there is no country with a majority of their territory below it who prefers Sweden; whilst above it, the only ones who prefer Russia are Croatia and a few former Soviet nations with strong ties to Moscow still. Perhaps the often more emotional, visceral Russian offerings entice Southern voters more, whilst Northern viewers (and juries) prefer the slicker but more emotionally distant Swedish entries? Whilst political justifications will always be readily offered, for me this feels like a different divide at work. The full data is available below :)

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