This morning we saw the draw for semi-final allocations, based on the pot allocation for the semi-finallists. The was is as follows:
- The 6 pre-qualified finalists draw which semi-final they must show and will vote in, though Germany’s request to be allocated the second semi-final has been already approved by the reference group.
- All participating countries are put in one of six (6) pots with 6-7 countries in each, “based on historical voting patterns as analysed by vote contractor, Digame.
- Israel has already had its request to participate in the second semi-final, to avoid a conflict with their national memorial day, so they only drew for first or second half of semi-final two
- Otherwise each country draws both its semi-final allocation and whether they will perform in the first versus second half of the performance order in one “pull”.
Here are the six pots, the titles of which are somewhat tongue-in-cheek:
Pot 1 (Balkan)
Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Pot 2 (Scandiplus)
Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia
Pot 3 (Ex-Soviet)
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine
Pot 4 (Pairs Plus)
Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Australia, The Netherlands, Bulgaria.
Pot 5 (Miscellaneous)
Czech Republic, Lithuania, Ireland, Malta, Poland, San Marino
Pot 6 (Holy Roman)
Austria, Hungary, Israel (*), Moldova, Romania, Switzerland
There’s not much difference in the Balkan bloc: sometimes Switzerland is included with them, though the mixed jury/televote system has diminished the skew towards ex-Yugoslav entries. Albania is here because of sizable minorities in Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. Slovenia tends to support decent entries from the other ex-Yugos, but the love is often unrequited.
Similarly, the Scandi-plus block gets Latvia, since there’s a bit of love between all three of the Baltics. With Estonia skewing towards this bloc Latvia could have been in the ex-Soviet pot, were it not for overcrowding. In fact, if Ukraine hadn’t been returning I suspect that’s where Latvia would be this year–in the ex-Soviet pot.
The other pots are a bit arbitrary. Pairs Plus includes perennial vote swappers Greece-Cyprus and sometimes swappers Belgium and Netherlands (with the Flemish broadcaster in charge for 2016, the argument is a bit stronger… except Belgium’s already selected a song in English). Bulgaria and Australia had to go… somewhere.
Miscellaneous pot 5 has some logic to it. The Lithuanian and Polish diaspora in Ireland means one of those two will always get the top televote score on the Emerald Isle.
Finally, the Holy Roman pot includes former co-colonialists Austria and Hungary, vote swappers Romania and Moldova, and outliers Switzerland and Israel.
Semi Final 1 (18 entries)
Armenia, Croatia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Moldova, Netherlands, Russia, San Marino
Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Hercegovina, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Iceland, Malta, Montenegro
Also voting in this semi-final:
France, Spain, and Sweden.
Semi Final 2 (19 entries)
Australia, Belarus, , Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Serbia, Switzerland
Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Georgia, Norway, Romania, Slovenia, Ukraine.
Also voting in this semi-final:
Germany, Italy, and United Kingdom.
Israel was previously allocated this semi-final; they drew the first half.
Who’s Been Split Up
Balkan: Split somewhat evenly, though Albania, Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia are all in the second semi-final. Excellent for Albania (huge diaspora); good for Serbia and Macedonia.
Ex-Soviet: Split evenly; with Russia in the first semi-final alongside Armenia and Azerbaijan. Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine in the other semi-final.
Scandiplus: Sweden voting in the first semi-final helps its three bloc colleagues, Estonia, Iceland and Finland. Estonia and Finland will also help each other a bit. Denmark and Norway will treat each other rather well in the second semi-final.
Pairsplus: Cyprus and Greece in the first semi-final gives them both a potential 12 point boost for qualification.
Miscellaneous: Ireland, Poland and Lithuania are all in the second semi-final is great news for Poland and Lithuania, not so much for Ireland or the other entries. Poland could well start with 20 points, thanks to the Polish diaspora in these two countries; Lithuania could get 10 or 12 from Ireland. UK voting in this semi-final might help Ireland a bit, as might Australia’s presence.
Holy Roman: Romania and Moldova are in different semi-finals, thank goodness.
Aside from what’s mentioned pot-wise, we can’t be sure the countries drawn into the second half of each semi-final have much of an advantage. Some will be late in the performance order; others in the lumpy middle around songs 10 or 11. But there’s one extra song in the second semi-final, so those in the first one have a three percent better chance of qualification.