CIVIL as a socially responsible organization monitored the process of the Census of Population of the Republic of North Macedonia, from the first announcements to the final implementation, that is, implementation of the operation.
The last census conducted in the country was as far back as 2002, and there was an attempt for a census in 2011, when it was stopped, while the Special Prosecutor’s Office initiated a procedure against Nikola Gruevski and Ali Ahmeti for deliberately stopping the census in 2011 and for inflicting damage to the budget in the amount of 3 million euros.
A new census was supposed to be conducted in April last year, but it too was not carried out. Following the strong government campaign on the need of conducting this process, and the campaign of the opposition party VMRO-DPMNE on postponing the census due to the pandemic, namely, endangering the health of the citizens, the census in April was postponed, while a great number of citizens from the diaspora had already been enumerated in the first phase of the process, that is, in the phase of enumeration of Macedonian citizens residing abroad.
The census was carried out from September 5 – September 30, whereas the electronic enumeration of citizens of Republic of North Macedonia temporarily working or residing abroad, which had started in April, continued until September 30. The statistical operation was conducted with a combined method, with an electronic application that enumerators filled out on the ground.
According to the data of the State Statistical Office, the Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of North Macedonia completed successfully. A total of 1,832,696 persons, 568,175 households and 837,255 dwellings were enumerated, and 204,805 Macedonian citizens self-registered, mainly from the Western European countries, and much less from the oversees countries.
In terms of the need for this important statistical operation, as well as its obvious politicization in the past, CIVIL in 2020 and 2021 held numerous public events with representatives of the local government, as well as with the main stakeholders of the census, and published on its media platform CIVIL Media over 1000 relevant content related to the census
Given the long years of delaying the census, including the last one, which came as a result of the compromise solution between the government and the opposition, due to implementing the census in conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, this statistical operation brought about different views and reactions by the citizens.
CIVIL, as part of its monitoring of the entire census process, conducted a survey with several questions to representatives of the NGO sector and civil society.
The questions were carefully put together by the team for monitoring the census, taking in consideration the overall set of circumstances in which the statistical operation was being conducted, such as the combined method, the content of the questions, the campaign of certain political structures for boycotting the census, compliance with the protocols for protection against COVID-19 and so on. There are 219 responses to the questions.
CIVIL’s team performed a quantitative and qualitative analyses from the responses received from the survey.
What can be noted from the responses to the given questions is that this target group of respondents has different experiences and views regarding the implementation of the statistical operation, as well as different views as to what it represents.
The number of respondents who refused to answer all the questions is noticeable, given that it concerns a limited number of respondents, which leaves the impression that the same are indoctrinated, that is did (not) answer the questions due to an organized boycott of the census.
Despite the big positive campaigns for the census, as well as the appeals for it not to be politicized, CIVIL assesses that this operation was politicized by certain political entities with nationalist narratives and abuse of the global situation with the COVID pandemic, reduced to the national level for petty political gain, to the detriment of the entire society, as well as the organization of this complex statistical operation.
In regards to the implementation of the operation, CIVIL assessed the census as successful, with remarks about the insufficient sub-questions related to employment, specifically, about a broader range of opportunities for responses, taking into consideration the different specifics of professions or business activities that don’t fall into the category of employed citizens.
In terms of citizens where enumerators did not show up, the Director of the State Statistical Office, Apostol Simovski, stated for CIVIL that there will not be a single person who will not be part of the final census data, underlining that their goal was for everyone to be included with the field part, which will be known once the database has been cleared.
The results of the census, according to the State Statistical Office, will be published on March 30, 2022.
Translation: N. Cvetkovska