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POLITICS Parliament passes 2021 census law

Parliament on Thursday passed the Law on 2021 Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in North Macedonia after 62 MPs voted in favor with none abstaining or against. 29 MPs who are members of smaller ethnic communities also voted in favor of the legislation, paving the way for the country to organize a census after 19 years.

These included MPs from the ruling majority of SDSM, DUI and Besa, and the opposition Alliance of Albanians and Alternativa. The VMRO-DPMNE-led opposition was absent during the vote.

MPs concluded discussions on the census bill at a session on Jan. 15.

Addressing today’s session, VMRO-DPMNE parliamentary group coordinator Nikola Micevski reiterated his party’s position, saying the census wouldn’t be ‘fair, credible or realistic.’

“Over the past few days, there has been speculation about percentages and statements about recognizing or not recognizing the census findings, which gives me the right to conclude that our remarks are justified, that the census from a statistical is being turned into a political operation,” he said.

Speaking before the vote, Skender Rexhepi, coordinator of the Alliance of Albanians/Alternativa parliamentary group, said the census law would pass with the votes of their MPs. Criticizing the opposition MPs for not being present for the vote, he said the operation would be a political process after all after the coalition’s amendments, filed to remove any doubts into the process, had been rejected.

According to him, the rights of the Albanians would depend on the data gathered during the headcount.

Data collected from the census of the population, households and dwellings in North Macedonia, slated for April 2021, will be used to create development policies, macro-economic planning, researches and statistical processes.

Census takers will collect data about both resident and non-resident population.

During the operation, census takers will visit individual homes to collect data while also using information from the databases of the most relevant institutions. They will use a special app installed on portable computers all the while adhering to personal data protection measures.

Since the first census in 1948, eight statistical operations had been conducted with the last one being held in 2002. The 2011 census fell through because it was suspended shortly after launching.

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