A third COVID-19 wave, shady Bulgarian census software, party blackmail, calls for boycott, and unconventional and non-transparent methodology all point to skewed census results in Macedonia’s first census in twenty years.
Twenty daily covid deaths and half of the enumerators unvaccinated won’t stop the Macedonian government from conducting its overdue and highly controversial census this Sunday 3rd of September.
The census is scheduled to take place over 26 days, as the State Statistical Office prepares to mobilize 5,500 enumerators across the country.
Open to manipulation with Bulgarian census software
As Bulgaria broke the friendship agreement and blocked the start of Macedonia’s EU accession talks, the State Statistics Office received the software that will be used to conduct the census through a Bulgarian owned company Scalefocus, without issuing a public tender and despite the fact that the company does not even have a website.
Bulgaria is openly hostile and following in Greece’s footsteps since Athens and Skopje signed the Prespa Agreement. Bulgaria is hoping by following Greece’s strategy of blocking Skopje’s EU integration the Zaev led Government will accept Bulgaria’s demands.
Bulgaria has extensive leverage in manipulating the Macedonian census results, mainly through the use of the census software and 80,000 or so Macedonian citizens that have obtained a Bulgarian passport to work in the EU.
Global not national census
In order to keep the Albanian block happy, the census methodology allows diaspora who have not lived in the country for decades to take part. The ruling DUI went on a whirlwind tour of Europe visiting mosques where Albanians live instructing Imams to tell their followers to take part in the census in order to boost Albanian numbers.
Yesterday Economy Minister Kreshnik Bektishi in a Facebook post stated, “Registration of the diaspora continues until 30 September, even the children born abroad and not yet registered in Northern Macedonia”.
An estimated 190,000 diaspora people have already been counted in the census which has been running since March. Most are Albanian and according to Bektishi even the kids of migrants are counted.
In contrast, the ethnic Macedonian diaspora has largely boycotted the census thus far, with hundreds of thousands of Macedonians dispersed across the globe.
Meanwhile, Macedonians have formed a boycott block of more than 20 organizations and diaspora groups calling for the postponement of the census until it meets European standards with a transparent methodology.
“Our demands are unchanged: first, a stable epidemiological situation, second, a census with a changed methodology, harmonized with European standards and processing of data with Macedonian software by a Macedonian company, and third, conducting credible local and parliamentary elections in safe epidemiological conditions,” said the coordinator for the group “I do not open the door”, Marjan Kamilovski for news portal Sloboden Pecat.
Opposition VMRO has remained largely silent on the upcoming census after the initial date in March was postponed, with Mickoski stating the party would only accept the statistics for the actual inhabitants of the country. The remaining Macedonian opposition parties have stated they will not accept the census results.