A few months back, Madrid’s regional president Cristina Cifuentes (PP) resigned after a leaked report claimed that she had not attended many of her tutorials nor presented a dissertation, a compulsory part of the curriculum for her master’s in regional law.
This has never been proven, but ‘irregularities’ involving several students’ grades have since been found.
Similar issues surround the PP’s new leader at a national level, Pablo Casado, although he insists his masters is legitimate and has no plans to stand down.
Now, Carmen Montón, originally Valencia’s regional health minister, has been forced to speak out in Parliament, during which she opted to resign.
Sra Montón had insisted, in the 48 hours since details of her post-graduate degree hit the media, that she had fulfilled the requirements of the curriculum and would be able to produce a copy of her dissertation if anyone wanted to see it.
Yesterday, reports claimed that of the 52 pages of Montón’s dissertation – about 31,000 words, which would occupy around the same space as 20,000 in English – a total of 19 pages, or just over 7,300 words, were ‘plagiarised’.
The claims maintained these sections were not properly referenced, were duplicates of other researchers’ work – including PhD candidates – and even from Wikipedia.
Spanish president Pedro Sánchez said yesterday he did not want Montón to resign because she was ‘doing an excellent job’.
But he has now praised her for her bravery in stepping down.
“I’ve been transparent and honest, and I haven’t broken any rules, and my conscience is clear,” Montón said in Parliament last night (Tuesday).
“In the last 48 hours, my master’s dissertation has been thrown into question, as has my attendance at classes and my having passed different modules.
“From the very beginning, I’ve given explanations, I’ve given all the information I have in my power, I’ve cooperated with the media and have clarified everything that’s within my responsibility.”
Her troubles started on Tuesday when a report in El Diario maintained one of her subject grades had been amended – that it had, allegedly, originally been shown as ‘absent’ and later changed to ‘pass’.
A similar situation was seen with Cristina Cifuentes, and which the Rey Juan Carlos University says was an admin error.
Carmen Montón’s colleagues had been satisfied with her own explanations about this until the accusations of plagiarism came up.
Although she continues to stress she passed her master’s entirely on merit, Montón opted to resign so as not to ‘tarnish the government’.
“The Spanish people have a magnificent president and, in order for this situation not to influence his government, I’ve told him I intend to resign as minister of health, consumerism and social welfare,” Montón concluded.
A new health minister has already been appointed – María Luisa Carcedo who, until now, has been head of the High Commission on child poverty.