The 2011 Population and Housing Census will be carried out at the end of this week on 21 May after a 10-year gap, and will reveal the demographic changes that have taken place in Slovakia since the last census in 2001.
The census should provide detailed information about the population’s demographic, educational, ethnic, social and economic structure. This will be the first census in the country that allows people to submit their data also in electronic form, with electronic forms available in Slovak, English, and in the languages of ethnic minorities in Slovakia (Hungarian, Romany, Ukrainian, and Ruthenian).
Even so, the results will never be entirely accurate as the census will be done by the so-called self-enumeration system, which is used in most countries. The questions are not compulsory as such, and many people will not provide certain information that they feel is personal or sensitive.
The census hopes to provide a better insight into the number of Roma, for instance, but many will not submit forms and so the results will be distorted. Projections estimate around 280,000-400,000 Roma in Slovakia, but the figure could me much higher.
According to daily Sme, there could be up to four times as many Roma in Slovakia than the figure recorded back in 2001. The daily quotes Kristina Magdolenova from the Roma Media Centre as saying many Roma will not confess to their ethnicity as they are afraid they will be discriminated or excluded from society in some way.
There have also been claims that the Roma are being offered a reward for claiming to be Hungarian and the Catholic church has also been carrying out an extensive campaign to get people to ‘own up’ to their religious affinity.