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The Subtle Difference of a Six Song Melodifestivalen Heats Written by on February 3, 2024

This year’s Melodifestivalen has six songs in five heats rather than the seven songs in four shows that have been the staple in the modern era. Ben Robertson assesses if these six song shows, and the voting system changes that means, would have any difference on the competition. 

The change to removing the Andra Chansen or Semi Final show or whatever configuration SVT chooses to call their penultimate show of the six week journey is one that has been discussed for years, but only now have SVT altered the format to remove this stand alone show.

This year we see the twist is that there are five heats of six songs instead of four heats of seven songs. Nevertheless two songs go through from each heat and the songs in 3rd and 4th place end up instead at a Final Qualification showdown at the end of Heat 5.

The winner in each heat is decided by the same format as last year, the one with the biggest number of votes. Simple.

It is how the second qualifier is decided from each heat that has the tiniest of changes as we go from seven songs per heat down to six.

If you are new Melodifestivalen’s App voting system and the age groups that decide the outcome of the winner, check out this piece first before you continue further.

An Unbalanced Borda Count

The Eurovision Song Contest points scoring system, is a type of voting system known in the political world as a Borda count, where essentially the points distribution acts a ranking of the different acts in order. Eurovision’s system is unbalanced, only ten songs receive points, and the 12 and 10 points are awarded to give a slightly higher reward to those who placed in first place compared to the others below.

Melodifestivalen’s Borda count in the heat stage has been unbalanced in a different way. The public voting is divided up into seven different age categories using the Melodifestvialen app, and a score from the televote. The number of votes in each category gives a ranking of the six remaining songs in each heat. In last year’s show the split of points was 12-10-8-5-3-1.

Here the decision was made intentionally to have the biggest gap in the rankings be between the 3rd and 4th placed entries. It isn’t uncommon for the pop songs of Melodifestivalen to score well across the spectrum of different ages, and this tweak gives those a slight advantage above those that maybe are only popular amongst one or two generations, which would do better if the split was more like Eurovision.

The new scoring system with just five songs per heat is 12-10-8-5-3. This smallest of voting system tweaks removes the bottom score, congregating the scores closer to each other. While the larger gap between 8 and 5 points remains, the removal of a score of 1 point reduces the gap that can exist between a top score and bottom score, should your music alienate with just one or two voting blocks.

Sweden’s Melodifestivalen has held seven heats with this voting system in the previous three years (the heat where Cornelia Jakobs qualified in 2022 saw the app system crash and therefore it was only televote that decided the winner) of one qualifier progressing through, and the rest fighting it out for the one remaining place direct in the qualification process. If we remove a song from previous years competitions, do we have any difference in the results?

The Results

To create this thought experiment what we do to the seven previous Melodifestivalen heats is remove the points awarded to the song that placed 7th and last in those previous heats. For the remaining songs that finished 2nd to 6th in those heats we then rank them using the new system 12-10-8-5-3, to get a new ranking for that heat. Would any different songs have qualified in the new system?

In terms of direct qualification, no. All the 7 direct qualifiers would have been the same. The heat with the closest result was heat 3 of Melodifestivalen 2022, where Faith Kakembo’s ‘Freedom’ qualified to Friends Arena. In that show from Stockholm’s Avicii Arena ‘Freedom’ qualified by 4 points, but in our calculations this is reduced to a margin of 2, as Lisa Miskovsky does get dragged backwards as far as a last place from the 16-29 year olds.

If we look at the race for 3rd and 4th place in the heats, the battle to get to the final qualification round, how many changes do we have from the 14 possible qualifiers.


Back in the 2023 Contest, a few minutes after Loreen qualified directly to the Melodifestivalen Final in 1st place, six other songs competed for the final spots to continue in the competition. On the night Mariette took the final place in the top 4 by a solitary point margin over Axel Schylström and the song ‘Gorgeous’. However our model leaves us in the cliffhanger situation where both of these songs would be tied for the final qualification spot, and the rules state in this situation that the song with the most votes (rather than points) from the voting public goes through, and this would have taken Axel over the line and into last year’s Semi Final.

Our model for a six song heat would have seen Mariette miss out on a Semi Final place last year by the smallest of margins.

The Smallest Of Differences

Moving from a 12-10-8-5-3-1 voting system to a 12-10-8-5-3 system is of course the smallest of differences. But it does remove the drag of a bottom score from the pile, and in battles of a single point nature that might be all the difference that is needed.

This only affects the qualification out of the heats. The Grand Final will be decided in the same format as we all know and love, and the new style Final Qualification Round is so complex, it gets its own article closer to the time.

About The Author: Ben Robertson

Ben Robertson has attended 23 National Finals in the world of Eurovision. With that experience behind him he writes for ESC Insight with his analysis and opinions about anything and everything Eurovision Song Contest that is worth telling.

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