Fake degree scandals rock Spanish politics

EPA-EFE/Luca Piergiovanni

Hundred of students of the University Rey Juan Carlos (URJC) attend a protest to demand the resignation of Madrid's regional President Cristina Cifuentes and URJC rector Javier Ramos in Madrid.

Fake degree scandals rock Spanish politics


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Allegations of plagiarism and other academic irregularities are shaking Spanish politics after one minister has been forced to resigned and both the prime minister as well as the leader of the opposition face allegations of academic irregularities.

Health Minister Carmen Monton resigned on September 11 following revelations of irregularities in the way she obtained a masters’ degree from Madrid’s Juan Carlos University. The university was forced to confirm reports by Spanish online daily eldiario.es that her grades for her Gender Studies degree were manually changed online.

According to the report, Monton failed to submit part of her coursework and there are questions over how she graduated without having fully completed all of her courses. Adding to the controversy was a television report that showed how extracts of Monton’s thesis were copied and pasted directly from Wikipedia, while other extracts and whole pages were taken from other published theses and articles that are available online.

Monton chose to resign while an official investigation remains pending. Despite having stepped down, Monton insists that she did nothing wrong. The prime minister had initially backed the minister, but revelations over her thesis tipped the balance.

The ruling Socialist Party is calling on opposition Popular Party (PP) leader Pablo Casado to quit as he faces similar allegations for a degree from the same university.  In August 2018, a judge ordered the Supreme Court to investigate Casado for alleged “administrative embezzlement and bribery” as there is evidence to suggest that his Master’s degree was granted without having gained the required amount of practical experience.

The university claims Casado was able to accredit the modules from his undergraduate law degree but investigators doubt he ever did the required coursework.

The ongoing “political degrees” has also embroiled the PP’s former regional premiere in Madrid, Cristina Cifuentes, and the Secretary of Valencia’s regional government Alida Mas Taberner.

The leader of the opposition Ciudadanos party, Albert Rivera, is calling for a review of the PhD economics thesis of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who he accuses of avoiding concerns over the authenticity of his work.

epa07013178 Spanish Health Consumption and Social Welfare Minister Carmen Monton attends a press conference at the Ministry headquarters in Madrid, Spain, 11 September 2018. Monton announced her resignation after alleged irregularities in her Masters Degree back in 2011 at the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid. EPA-EFE/JUANJO MARTIN

Spanish Health Minister Carmen Monton attends a press conference at the Ministry headquarters in Madrid, Spain, 11 September 2018. Monton announced her resignation after alleged irregularities in her Masters Degree back in 2011 at the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid. EPA-EFE/JUANJO MARTIN

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