surinenglish

Sánchez defends his honour as minister quits over her Masters

Carmen Montón resigns after just 100 days in the job.
Carmen Montón resigns after just 100 days in the job. / EFE
  • The prime minister has agreed to the public distribution of his doctoral thesis amid allegations that parts of it are plagiarised

The PSOE socialist government, in office for only a few months, was embroiled in a scandal fuelled by a media frenzy this week over suspect university qualifications among politicians.

Earlier this week, online newspaper eldiario.es published accusations that the 2011 Masters degree of the health minister, Carmen Montón, had been acquired with false marks.

The minister denied any wrong-doing and was supported by the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez. But by Tuesday evening she was gone, amid new, indefensible accusations that over a dozen pages in her dissertation had been copied from sources including Wikipedia.

By Thursday evening, Pedro Sánchez had been forced to agree to publish his own doctoral thesis after the pressure became inescapable. The document will be available online from today, Friday, as journalists wait to discover if there is any plagiarism in there. Sánchez, like Montón had done with her Masters, has said that his Doctorate is totally in order.

This week's events affecting the PSOE party took the ongoing scandal over favoritism and corruption in university awards to politicians to a new level. Up to now it had focused on the conservative PP party.

Earlier this year, the president of the Madrid regional government, Cristina Cifuentes, was forced to resign, in part after it emerged that the Masters degree she had been awarded was based on not going to class or doing any work. She too denied any wrongdoing at the time.

The new leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, is also under investigation over allegedly receiving favours to get his Masters. He has also, so far, denied any wrongdoing. The spotlight moving to the PSOE party has been a welcome relief for Casado this week.

The Masters of Cifuentes, Casado and Montón were all awarded by an institute linked to the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid. That university has already disbanded its institute because of the scandal.

But the suggestion that there are irregularities in the doctoral thesis of the prime minister himself could have much more significant consequences. Sánchez studied at a different university than the others. On Thursday morning he threatened legal action for those that questioned his honour. By Thursday lunchtime he had finally agreed to its publication. And journalists waited to analyse it.