Eurovision, Computer Simulations and Patterns of Collusive Voting Alliances
The Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation has always very intriguing article. In the last issue, there is a piece called "Comparison of Eurovision Song Contest Simulation with Actual Results Reveals Shifting Patterns of Collusive Voting Alliances".
The voting patterns in the Eurovision Song Contest have attracted attention from various researchers, spawning a small cross-disciplinary field of what might be called 'eurovisiopsephology' incorporating insights from politics, sociology and computer science. Although the outcome of the contest is decided using a simple electoral system, its single parameter - the number of countries casting a vote - varies from year to year. Analytical identification of statistically significant trends in voting patterns over a period of several years is therefore mathematically complex. Simulation provides a method for reconstructing the contest's history using Monte Carlo methods. Comparison of simulated histories with the actual history of the contest allows the identification of statistically significant changes in patterns of voting behaviour, without requiring a full mathematical solution. In particular, the period since the mid-90s has seen the emergence of large geographical voting blocs from previously small voting partnerships, which initially appeared in the early 90s. On at least two occasions, the outcome of the contest has been crucially affected by voting blocs. The structure of these blocs implies that a handful of centrally placed countries have a higher probability of being future winners. (...) What implications does this have, if any, for pan-European political institutions? The answer to this depends on whether or not one takes the view that the contest is some kind of grand metaphor for European politics, as for instance The Economist (Unattributed 2005) and some of the academic authors have tentatively suggested. If one believes this, then the outlook for an expanded European Union is one grim inter-regional struggle. However, if one simply sees the contest as an expression of post-modern kitsch contempt for the established pop music industry (see Tan 2005 for a discussion of an Asian parallel), then no such concern is warranted. This paper shows that regionalism in the contest is a memetic epidemic, and not likely to reflect very profound fault lines in the current state of Europe.
"eurovisiopsephology": this name rocks! Why do I blog this? it's interesting to see how such research gives insights about memetic epidemic.