The 2012 Eurovision Song Contest allocation draw took place in Baku on Wednesday January 25th. This draw decides which countries participate in each semi-final, in which half of the draw each country will perform and which of the the six automatic finalists will vote in each semi-final. 

As in previous years countries were divided into pots, based on previous voting trends, but this year the make-up of the pots was not announced before the draw. The only changes to the pots used in 2011 saw Montenegro replace Slovenia in the former Yugoslav pot and Switzerland moving to replace Poland, who are opting out of the contest in 2012.
First Half Second Half First Half Second Half
Montenegro Moldova Serbia Sweden
Iceland Cyprus Netherlands Georgia
Romania Austria Portugal Slovenia
Albania Denmark FYR.Macedonia Estonia
Belgium Russia Belarus Turkey
Latvia San Marino Malta Slovakia
Switzerland Israel Ukraine Croatia
Finland Ireland Armenia Norway
Greece Hungary Bulgaria Lithuania

In addition these countries will be voting in voting in the semi-finals and they are automatically qualified for the final.
Italy United Kingdom
Azerbaijan France
Spain Germany
Countries competing in the first semi. Countries voting in the first semi.
Countries competing in the second semi. Countries voting in the second semi.

Despite the best intentions of the organisers, it often turns out that one semi-final turns out to be more difficult to qualify from, at least on paper. While we won't know if this is the case for 2012 until we hear all the songs, initial indications are that we have quiet evenly balanced semi-finals this year. For only the second time, we are going to have a different number of countries competing in each semi-final, with 18 entries in semi one and 19 in semi two. This means that each country in semi one has a notional 56% chance of qualifying, but in semi two, that drops to 53%. Therefore it is slightly better to be drawn in the first semi-final.

Another consideration is the opposition in your semi-final. Some countries have a 100% qualification record and while nothing is guaranteed, these countries are best avoided if you want to qualify for the final. There are six countries that fall into this category; Greece, Romania and Russia have been drawn in the first semi, while Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine have been drawn in the second. Four other countries with a much better than average qualification record; Moldova has been drawn in the first semi, while Armenia, Sweden and Turkey are in the second. 

At the other end of the scale, six countries have a very poor qualification record. Again, while nothing is certain, these would appear to be the best countries to have in your semi. Montenegro and San Marino have never qualified and these two countries are in the first semi. Slovakia which also has never made it out of the semi are in the second. Belgium who have only once qualified in seven attempts have been drawn in the first semi. Bulgaria, with an identical record are in the second semi. Netherlands with only one qualification in eight attempts have been drawn in the second semi.

To summarise, when you consider that there is one more country in the second semi-final and it also has more of the countries with a good qualification record, it looks like the second semi is very slightly tougher, at this stage. However that may change when we hear all the songs.    

Another consideration of what makes a good draw is whether you perform in the first or second half of your semi-final. While every effort is made to give no advantage to songs based on their position in the running order, it is still obvious that a later draw brings a better chance of qualifying than performing earlier in the show. 

So far we've had twelve semi-finals in the Eurovision Song Contest and on only one occasion, (the second semifinal in Belgrade in 2008), have more countries from the first half than the second half of the show, qualified for the final.

Indeed the difference between being in the second half of the semi compared with being in the first half is much greater than being in an 18 or 19 song semi, when it comes to qualifying, as you can see from the graph on the right. If you are in the first half of a semi, your chance of qualifying is 40%, but that climbs dramatically to 61% if you are in the second half of the show.  

Having determined that the second semi-final is slightly tougher than the first and that it's better to be drawn in the second half of a semi-final than the first, we have come up with the grid on the right. This takes all these considerations into account to to determine the average chance of each country making the final based only on where they were allocated in the draw.

The best possible allocation is to be drawn in the second half of the first semi-final as you are are in the slightly easier semi-final and you have the advantage of a late draw. Therefore, just considering draw allocation these countries fared best; Moldova, Cyprus, Austria, Denmark, Russia, San Marino, Israel, Ireland and Hungary.

By contrast, the worst draw is to be in the first half of the second semi-final where you have more countries and an early draw, so these countries fared worst. Serbia, Netherlands, Portugal, Macedonia, Belarus, Malta, Ukraine, Armenia and Bulgaria.     


Of course things are not quite that simple. You also have to consider how many of their "friends" can vote for any country. For Greece and Cyprus, having each other almost guarantees they start with twelve points. While allocating countries to pots should distribute countries more evenly, this year has seen some traditionally friendly countries being drawn together. Greece and Cyprus have ended up in semi one as have Romania and Moldova, another traditionally strong vote transfer. However most surprisingly, five of the six former members of Yugoslavia have ended up in the second semi-final, which should help at least three of them qualify. 

We have used the Friend Index on the voting database on ESCNation and used the votes cast at every contest since 2002 and  reviewed how many of its biggest supporters can vote for every semi-finalist. Please note that there is no consideration of the merits of a country's 2012 entry in this calculation or the historic qualification record of each country. We are rating each country's draw based only on where it was placed in the allocation draw.


MONTENEGRO : With the other members of former Yugoslavia drawn in the second semi, Montenegro finds itself alone and without any of its friends in the first semi, as it tries to qualify for the first time. Whether having a well known artist in the region attracts Balkan diasdora voters, is debatable, but right now this is a poor draw. DRAW RATING :


ICELAND :  Looking for its fifth successive qualification for the final, Iceland has to make the final without the help of traditional supporters Norway. However with Denmark, Finland, Hungary and Italy all able to vote in the first semi-final, things are looking better. DRAW RATING : ★★★


ROMANIA : The Romanian entry has qualified for the final on every one of the five occasions that they have competed in the Eurovision semi-final. This year Romania has to progress without its diaspora community in Portugal, but its other supporters, Spain, Moldova, Italy and Israel can all vote in the first semi. DRAW RATING : ★★★★    


ALBANIA : The Albanians once again get an early draw and have to do without Macedonia, their biggest supporters. The good news is that Greece, Montenegro, Switzerland and San Marino who traditionally give Albania good votes, can do so again. DRAW RATING : ★★★   


BELGIUM : Belgium's qualification record is poor, with one success in seven attempts. This year, they not only have an early draw but none of their biggest supporters, Georgia, Netherlands, Armenia, Portugal or France can vote for them. This is a poor draw and a poor platform for Belgium's attempt to qualify for only the second time. DRAW RATING :


LATVIA : The Latvians have a hit and miss record in the semis and haven't qualified since 2008. This year they are going to have to do it without Estonia, Lithuania or Malta who are usually generous to Latvia's entries. On the positive side  Ireland and Finland can vote in this semi. DRAW RATING : ★★


SWITZERLAND : 2011 saw only the second Swiss entry qualify from the semi-final and this year is going to be even tougher without the support of Slovakia, Georgia, Malta and Serbia who have four of the closest things that Switzerland has to friends. The good news is that Finland can give the Swiss votes, but this is a tough draw. DRAW RATING :


FINLAND : Another country with a hit and miss record when it comes to qualifying, making the final of four of the seven times they have have been in the semis. Interestingly, this is Finland's fifth time being drawn in the first semi-final and they have never competed in the second. There are no votes coming from Sweden, Estonia and Norway, who are in the second semi, but votes are likely from Iceland and Denmark.  DRAW RATING : ★★


GREECE : A 100% qualification record and a place in the Eurovision Top 10 in every year since 2004 makes Greece a strong contender for the final. However this year Bulgaria and Germany are not able to vote for them, but with Cyprus, Romania and Albania, Greece still looks well placed to qualify, despite an early draw. DRAW RATING : ★★★★




MOLDOVA : As we head into the best section of the draw we find Moldova who only failed to qualify one one occasion back in 2008. Portugal, Italy and Belarus may not be voting in the first semi, but Romania and Azerbaijan will be, which may help maintaiin Moldova's very good record. DRAW RATING : ★★★★


CYPRUS : Two qualifications in seven attempts is the Cypriots' record in Eurovision semis. They may not have Bulgaria, U.K. or Malta to vote for them, but with Italy and Greece voting in the first semi-final and a late draw, for once things are looking good for Cyprus, with this draw. DRAW RATING : ★★★★


AUSTRIA : Austria returned to the contest in 2011 and qualified from the semi-final for the first time. Turkey, Slovenia and France may not be voting in the first semi-final, but Switzerland and Greece are and combined with a good draw in the second half of the smaller semi-final, things are looking good. DRAW RATING : ★★★★


DENMARK : On only two occasions in seven attempts has Denmark failed to make it out of the semi. Their Scandi neighbours in Sweden and Norway may not be able to vote for them but Iceland, Israel and Ireland can, which may see Denmark across the line once again. DRAW RATING : ★★★★


RUSSIA : Russia is one of three countries in the first semi-final with a 100% qualification record but this time out their three biggest supporters will not be able to vote for them as Belarus, Estonia are Armenia are in the second semi. Latvia and Moldova are however voting in this semi, which may help the Russian entry. DRAW RATING : ★★★     


SAN MARINO : San Marino hasn't made the final in its two Eurovision outings, but this year the draw has brought generally good news, as well as being in the second half of the smaller semi they have Italy to vote for them for the first time, as well as having Greece, Albania and Azerbaijan. This more than compensates for not having Malta and Turkey. DRAW RATING : ★★★★


ISRAEL : Another hit and miss country here, as Israel has qualified from the semi-final on four occasions and failed on three. Israel's biggest Eurovision supporter is France who are not voting in this semi and neither are Slovakia and Netherlands, which means that the Israelis will be hoping that Russia and Azerbaijan make up the gap. DRAW RATING : ★★★     


IRELAND : Ireland's qualification record is 50/50 with three sucesses and failures. The disappointing news is that the U.K. and Estonia are not voting in this semi, but Albania, Switzerland and Denmark who have given Ireland a lot of points, will be. This is a mixed draw for Ireland, with the lack of U.K. being compensated by having a late draw and being in the smaller semi.  DRAW RATING : ★★★     


HUNGARY :  The only big supporter that Hungary is missing in the first semi-final is Serbia, but Azerbaijan, Finland Romania and Spain may be able to make up for that. Three Hungarian semi-finalists have made the final and two have lost out, but all and all this is a good draw for Hungary. DRAW RATING : ★★★★  




SERBIA : Despite the best attempts of the organisers, five former Yugoslav republics ended up in the second semi-final and given that Serbia has only once missed out on qualifying, this is a good draw, even without the Serbian diaspora in Switzerland not being able to vote, the early draw and the bigger semi-final. DRAW RATING : ★★★★


NETHERLANDS : You have to go back to 2004 for the last (and only) time a Dutch Eurovision entry qualified from the semi-final. Belgium, Hungary and San Marino are in the first semi, so the only friends the Dutch have in this semi are Malta and Bulgaria although Germany may help out as well. DRAW RATING :


PORTUGAL : The Portuguese have been in the semi-finals every year since 2004, qualifying three times and missing out on five occasions. No country depends as much on  the old "Big 4" for votes as Portugal and France and Germany should help the Portuguese cause, but no Switzerland, Spain or Belgium could be a loss. DRAW RATING : ★★


FYR MACEDONIA: : The Macedonian entries qualified for the final in four straight years from 2004 to 2007, but since the re-introduction of juries they have always missed out on the final. Having their former Yugoslav comrades will be a help in 2012, but Macedonia will miss Montenegro and Albania more than anyone else. DRAW RATING : ★★★     


BELARUS : Belarus has qualified from the  sem-final on only two occasions in the last eight years. All of Belarus's supporters are other former members of the Soviet Union. Georgia, Ukraine and Lithuania should give Bularus points, but they will be missing support from Russia and Moldova, who are in the first semi. DRAW RATING : ★★   


MALTA : Malta has only qualified from two of the six semi-finals that they have contested. There's no San Marino, Albania or Ireland to help the Maltese cause in 2012, but they will be hoping for votes from Slovakia and the United Kingdom, who vote in the second semi-final. Nevertheless, this is a very tough draw for Malta. DRAW RATING :


UKRAINE : Six semi-finals; six successes, is the Ukrainian record, since joining the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004 and for the fifth year they cpompete in the second semi-final. Unfortunatly for Ukraine, their three biggest supporters; Azerbaijan, Moldova and Russia, will be voting in the first semi-final, leaving only Belarus and the Ukrainian diaspora in Portugal to support them. Consequently it's a tougher than normal task for Ukraine to qualify in Baku. DRAW RATING : ★★   


ARMENIA : Armenia lost its 100% qualification in 2011 after four previous successes. Georgia and Netherlands should be giving Armenia high points, but Russia, Belgium and Israel won't be voting in this semi. For the second year in a row, Armenia has had a poor draw. DRAW RATING : ★★   


BULGARIA : Bulgaria has competed in seven Eurovision semi-finals, but only made it to one final and ironically that was in the infamously tough 28 song semi-final in 2007. Bulgaria will be hoping for high points from FYR Macedonia and Turkey to compensate for Italy, Cyprus and Spain who are voting in the first semi. DRAW RATING : ★★   




SWEDEN : The Swedes lost their 100% qualification record in 2010, when they just missed out in Oslo. However they returned in 2011 and went on to finish 3rd in the final in Dusseldorf. Sweden will feel the loss of Denmark, Finland and Iceland but Norway and Malta may provide high points. Being in the second half of the semi, may also help. DRAW RATING : ★★★     


GEORGIA :While they've never set the Eurovision final alight, Georgia has qualified on every one of the four occasions that they have competed in the semi-final. Georgia has almost all its biggest supporters voting in this semi and will be expecting high points from Lithuania, Armenia, Ukraine and Turkey. Only Azerbaijan is missing. Nevertheless this is a good draw for Georgia. DRAW RATING : ★★★★       


SLOVENIA : Slovenia has competed in the semi-finals of the contest every year since the competition expanded in 2004, but only two of their eight entries made the final. This year things look much better for Slovenia due to the fact that they were surprisingly moved out of the ex-Yugoslav pot. That means that Croatia, Bosnia-Herz., Serbia and FYR Macedonia will all be able to vote for Slovenia and the only friend they are missing is Montenegro. DRAW RATING : ★★★★     


ESTONIA : Estonia's qualification record is identical to Slovenia's with two successes and six failures. However unlike Slovenia,  few of Estonia's friends are able to vote for them, as Finland, Latvia and Ireland are in the first semi. This leaves Lihuania and Sweden as Estonia's best hope of high votes. However a late draw may also help. DRAW RATING : ★★★     


TURKEY : The biggest shock in the semi-finals of the 2011 contest was that the Turkish entry failed to qualify, ending a non-stop run of appearances in the final that went back to 1995. San Marino and Albania may be missing but France, Netherlands and Germany will all be able to vote for them. This is as close to the perfect draw as you can get for Turkey and they are the most likely finalist based on draw alone.  DRAW RATING : ★★★★★   


SLOVAKIA : Since returning to the contest in 2009, Slovakia has had three unsuccessful attempts to reach the final. This year's draw has put Albania, Ukraine, Portugal and Bosnia-Herz. in the same semi as Slovakia, which is good news for the Slovaks and only Iceland of the countries that favour them, is in semi one. DRAW RATING : ★ ★★★     


CROATIA : Another ex-Yugoslav country benefitting from the rather odd draw, Croatia will be expecting high votes from Slovenia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herz. and while Austria and Montenegro may be missing, the late draw should also be a help and with a very hit and miss record of four qualifications and three failures, things are looking a lot better for Croatia in 2012. DRAW RATING : ★ ★★★     


NORWAY : Norway has competed in five Eurovison semi-finals, qualifying three times. In 2011 they suffered "the curse of last year's hosts" and missed out on the final. Norway will be hoping that a late draw and votes from Sweden and Estonia wiill bring them back to the final, but they'll be missing the votes from Iceland, Denmark and Finland. DRAW RATING : ★★★       


LITHUANIA : The Lithuanians will be missing their Irish diaspora and Latvian neighbours in the second semi-final, but Georgia, Estonia and the U.K. may make up the gap. Lithuania is another country with a patchy qualification record, with three successes and four failures. DRAW RATING : ★★★        


BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. : The Bosnians have made every Eurovision final since 2001 and along with Georgia and Ukraine, in this semi-final, they have a 100% qualification record from the semis. Serbia, Croatia and Turkey will be big supporters of the Bosnian entry, if history is anything to go by but they'll be missing Austria and Montenegro. Nevertheless this is a good draw for Bosnia. DRAW RATING : ★ ★★★      


When we know all the entries and the draw for the running order is made in March, we'll reassess the draw positions in more detail.nts have already confirmed that they will not b