Sietse Bakker (EBU) responds to the allegations re: the Voting-gate 2013

8 Sep

The allegations of fixed and rigged voting have been a part of Eurovision as long as I remember and have always been written and discussed about. However, it feels that this year the allegations have reached a whole new dimension. After the final in Malmö my colleagues from the fan-site published a series of news-stories based on an article from a Lithuanian newspaper, which stated how two Lithuanian students were paid to vote en masse for Azerbaijan, something which is apparently a common practice for years. Moreover, Swedish newspaper Skånska Dagbladet published a story on how members of delegations from Azerbaijan, Macedonia and “unnamed Southern European country” tried to bribe the jury members and deliberately cheat in the voting. The translation of the article can be read in English by clicking HERE.  Now Sietse Bakker, one of the key people whithin the EBU posted a series of comments on the issue.

This is his comment, which was cut off from the Skånska Dagbladet’s article and which will be published in the next issue of the paper:

“Rumors alike these have been going around basically since 1956, and never has any hard evidence been given by any Head of Delegation that would proof this is happening. We have strong measures in place to assure a fair vote:

– We have an independent notary present in every country while the jury comes together to vote, to assure that procedures are correctly being followed. They submit a signed statement to us along with the result
– Every juror signs a declaration that states the will vote independently, before they even start their judging
– We send, randomly, independent PricewaterhouseCoopers observers to broadcasters every year, as an extra check. They show up shortly before the broadcast to follow the work of the jury. They have never observed any wrongdoing

Moreover, the following is important to take into consideration:

– We have never been approached by any jury member (5 people in nearly 40 countries, since 2009, that makes a total of some 1000 people across Europe) that claims to have been put under pressure to vote a certain way
– Tired of unfunded speculations, we have asked our PricewaterhouseCoopers observer to do interviews with over 10 Heads of Delegation in Malmö this year, and offered all other Heads of Delegation to actively approach him or the EBU in case they want to report any wrongdoing, either personally or anonymously. If this had raised solid evidence that this is happening, we would have taken action

Every year, we do as much as we can to assure a fair jury result, so far we believe with success. There are always people who like to question the outcome of a competition, and if they have evidence of that, we would be the first ones to act.”


On the allegations of power-voting Sietse Bakker adds:

“Attempts to power-vote cannot be prevented. It’s not illegal in any law to go out on the streets of Vilnius, or any other city in Europe, and offer people €20 to cast some votes in the Eurovision Song Contest. But our systems are so intelligent that they can detect them and exclude such votes, in accordance with the Rules. Thát’s what matters most!”


And on allegations re: the slow actions and response of the EBU, which resulted in stories by sites such as Eurovisionista, where EBU’s integrity was questioned, mr. Bakker responds:

“The Lithuanian video case is still being investigated. Why does it take so long? Simple: Summer in Europe. Everyone is out of office, so things move slowly. Our priority is to get reliable information, and to take decisions based on facts, not on rumors. That’s in the best interest of the contest we all love. The recent 12points article, which is a re-write of the story in today’s Skånska Dagbladet, is – again! – only rumors and gossip, but no evidence. We’ve said it all along: provide us with evidence and we will act.”


I guess we will have to wait and see how story develops further and also see if there’s any truth in the stories published so far. I think the rule by current host of ESC, Denmark’s DR, where in both DMGP and ESC only one vote for each song is allowed would be a possible solution to minimalise the possible power vote and also improve the general reputation of the contest in the mainstream media in Europe, but that’s just my personal opinion. 


3 Responses to “Sietse Bakker (EBU) responds to the allegations re: the Voting-gate 2013”

  1. nikopalace September 9, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    Just get rid of the juries and everything will be OK.


  1. Eurovision vote-rigging allegations keep on coming | ESC Webs - Latest Eurovision News - September 8, 2013

    […] More articles about the vote rigging from previous months can be read for example on the websites of Eurovisionista and You can read how Sietse Bakker reacts to this here. […]

  2. Eurovision Voting Scandal: New Allegations of Bribes at ESC | WiwiBloggs.Com - September 8, 2013

    […] Uh guys, I’m pretty sure every bank robber is willing to sign a document saying they were making a valid withdrawal. They’ll even sign it in front of a notary. And while PwC states that the jury votes have been in accordance with the rules, we know that the rules have been blatantly disregarded in some instances, so their statement is worthless. (You can read more of the EBU response here). […]

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