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Coalition undecided about shake-up in census office

Coalition leaders have agreed to delay action against the management of the Slovak Statistics Office until the first results of this year's census are published, the TASR newswire reported on Tuesday, June 7.

Coalition leaders have agreed to delay action against the management of the Slovak Statistics Office until the first results of this year's census are published, the TASR newswire reported on Tuesday, June 7.

Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) caucus deputy leader Pavol Abrhan admitted that the census wasn't conducted in a standard way. "It's obvious that it wasn't done in the same way as censuses in the past," he said. Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic, also from KDH, said in early May – that is, before the census even took place – that preparations for the headcount had failed and he wouldn’t rule out disciplinary action when the census was completed.

The Statistics Office, which is headed by Ľudmila Benkovičová (an opposition Smer nominee) and which organised the census, ran into problems when speculation arose that the headcount might not be anonymous given the Statistics Office's requirement that people attach a numerical code to their completed forms. The lack of anonymity was confirmed by the Office for the Protection of Personal Data (ÚOOÚ), which pointed out that the code could be matched up to the person later. ÚOOÚ expressed its reservations on the day the census was launched (May 20).

The Nový Čas daily reported on June 7 that leaders of the coalition parties reportedly agreed to dismiss Benkovičová at their session on Monday, and that two independent sources indicated that Most-Híd chair Béla Bugár is interested in filling the post. Bugár confirmed to TASR that his party has a claim to nominations to the Statistics Office (based on the Coalition Agreement), but refused to link this fact with the possible dismissal of Benkovičová while the census data are still being processed. Jozef Mikuš, the caucus chairman of the largest coalition party, the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union-SDKÚ, also said that didn’t think it would be right to dismiss officials until the count had been completed.

Sources: TASR, Nový Čas

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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