Statisticians bar Moravians’ hopes of gaining influence

Moravian Eagle

The Czech Republic has three provinces: Bohemia in the west, Moravia in the east, and little Silesia in the north east. Many from Moravia were hoping the next national census would explicitly include the option of choosing the ethnicity Moravian – but the Czech Statistical Office has denied their wishes.

Moravians are arguably the Czech Republic’s largest ethnic minority. In the 1991 population census, 13.2 percent of the entire population of the Czech Republic – that is more than 1.3 million people – declared their ethnicity as Moravian. In the following census ten years later, only 3.7 percent declared themselves to be Moravian, but even so there are more ethnic Moravians than any other minority. Moravian activists have come up with a strategy to bolster the diminishing numbers of ethnic Moravians. They approached the Czech Statistical Office, the official body responsible for population and housing censuses in the country, to explicitly include the ethnicity as an option in the questionnaire for the next population census in 2011. Jiří Novotný is a leading member of the political party Moravane (Moravians).

“We have asked the Czech Statistical Office to change the method of collecting data and we know that the Office received several hundred similar proposals. According to the law on ethnic minorities, all ethnicities except Czech are minorities – paradoxically including the Moravians, who live in their own land. But on the other hand, Moravians are excluded from the list of minorities. There is for example no Moravian member of the government’s Council for Ethnic Minorities.”

Stanislav Drápal, the vice-president of the Czech Statistical Office, explains that a list of options to choose from when filling in the population census form would distort the results. Instead, they will leave it up each individual to fill in the ethnicity of their choice.

“Our decision is to include only the question ‘What is your ethnicity according to your personal conviction?’ There can’t be any concrete proposals such as Moravian, Silesian, Roma, Slovak, etc. because people should have a possibility to fill in their ethnicity according to their feelings.”

Brno
After the revolution of 1989, several politicians with a Moravian agenda were elected to Parliament but since then, calls for Moravian self-government or autonomy have faded away. Miroslav Mareš is a political scientist based in Brno, the unofficial Moravian capital.

“The current state [of Moravian political agenda] is on a very low level because the wave of Moravian successes of the 1990s is now history. There is now only one small Moravian party – Moravians – and they are not very successful. There are also some small Moravian organisations but their influence within the Moravian society is very low.”

The decision of the statisticians leaves it up to the Moravian national activists, once again, to gain support among the Moravian community through day-to-day political work rather than through a question in the census form.