Eurovision bosses defend voting system changes that crowned the ‘wrong’ winner

Organisers of the Eurovision Song Contest have issued an unprecedented statement defending the contest’s new voting procedure – after it was revealed the changes to the system led to a different winner.

Ukrainian singer Jamala took the Eurovision Song Contest trophy on Saturday with her song ‘1944’, referencing the persecution of the Crimean Tartars.

She took 534 points on the night ahead of Australia’s Dami Im on 511 points and Russia’s Sergey Lavarev on 491.

The singer failed to win the popular vote (which went to Lazarev) or the professional jury results (topped by Im) but managed to scrape a win overall as she placed second in both systems.

Fans slammed the result after number-crunchers worked out that changes to the voting system in 2016 had resulted in an entirely different winner than the old system.

If the 2015 voting system had been used, with combined jury-televote averages awarded by each country, Australia’s Dami Im would have taken the trophy by a few points.

But under the 2016 system, the televotes and jury votes were separated out rather than averaged, to create more suspense – but a mathematical quirk of the change means Jamala instead managed to edge ahead.

Eurovision organisers – who had insisted ahead of the contest that the “cosmetic” changes to the system could not alter the overall result – responded to complaints today.

A statement says: “The 2016 Eurovision Song Contest was a spectacular show and a testament to a year of hard work by so many people from so many countries. The live shows were world-class television productions with a thriller climax on Saturday night.

“We understand the passions and emotions that are engendered through the Eurovision Song Contest. In light of this, we have taken notice of your petition and appreciate this opportunity to respond.

“The winner of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest was decided by music industry professionals and you, viewers at home, each with a 50 percent stake in the result. Ukraine’s Jamala won, thanks to broad support from both the juries as well as televoters. She did so with an outstanding performance of an emotional song, telling a personal story.

“Australia’s Dami Im won the jury vote and Russia’s Sergey Lazarev won the televoting.

“They both deserve credit for their world-class performances, their great songs and for taking their loss as true professionals. They may not have won the contest, but responded to the outcome as winners. We respect and appreciate them for that.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is a competition. There can only be one winner. We understand that not everyone agrees with the outcome of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest however in a competition where the results are decided based on a subjective and often very personal opinions, there will always be people who do not agree.

“Regardless of this, the result remains valid by all means, in accordance with the rules as they were known to each participating broadcaster, each artist and each dedicated fan.

“Ukraine is, and will remain, the winner of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. Whether you agree or disagree, we call upon those who signed this petition to embrace the result, valid in accordance with the rules, and to continue a constructive dialogue about how to further strengthen and improve the Eurovision Song Contest.”