Hot on the heels of accusations about the now-ex health minister Carmen Montón’s master’s degree dissertation including plagiarisms, Spain’s right-wing opposition is now accusing socialist president Pedro Sánchez of doing likewise in his PhD thesis.
Sánchez is not the only one to be furious about the opposition’s attempt to ‘discredit what took him years of hard work’ – Madrid’s Camilo José Cela University has also spoken out.
It points out that a PhD is written and researched under the close guidance of two supervisors and fully reviewed by a panel before the award is granted.
The university says it has ‘thoroughly reviewed’ the ‘internal and external evaluation processes’ of the thesis presented by Dr Pedro Sánchez-Castejón in the year 2012, when he was 40 years of age, and confirms the ‘complete normality of the procedures, in line with legislation in force and the habitual verification and control protocol’ of the institution.
The accusations erupted after a report in right-wing international newspaper ABC claimed most of the thesis was written by famed economist Carlos Ocaña.
Sánchez has announced legal action for libel against ABC, which says it does not intend to change one word of its article and would be pleased to see the president’s evidence to the contrary.
Carlos Ocaña has also denied having written any part of Sánchez’s thesis, saying he later worked with the president as co-author of a book titled The New Spanish Economic Diplomacy, in which parts of the PhD were included.
“The book was based largely on the president’s thesis, and I only wrote parts of some of the chapters,” Ocaña insists.
Sánchez’s 342-page thesis, titled Innovations in Spanish Economic Diplomacy: An Analysis of the Public Sector 2009-2012, forms part of the library at the Camilo José Cela University, which said it did not have the jurisdiction to publish any of it online without Dr Sánchez-Castejón’s written permission, but that any member of the public is free to consult any PhD text at any public university in Spain.
Since Thursday morning, reporters have been queueing outside the door to read it.
Now, Sánchez has offered to give the university permission to publish the full text, including bibliography references, online.
Whilst the PP calls for Sánchez to ‘admit to plagiarism and resign’, Sánchez’s supporters – who include left-wing independent party Podemos, Spain’s third-largest political outfit – have asked whether PP leader Pablo Casado intends to do likewise.
Having also taken his master’s degree at the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid, where health minister Carmen Montón studied hers, accusations of plagiarism and ‘irregularities’ or ‘favouritism’ have also affected Casado.
But Casado says even if he had committed a criminal offence, it would have now expired under the statute of limitations.
It is not clear whether this would also be the case for Sra Montón, who took her master’s in the academic year of 2010 and 2011.
Initially, Sánchez would not allow her to resign, saying she was ‘doing an excellent job’, but later reports claimed that up to 19 pages of the 52-page dissertation were direct copies of the works of other writers, including from PhD theses and ‘even Wikipedia’.
Just a few months back, Madrid’s regional president Cristina Cifuentes (PP), often dubbed ‘the most left-wing of all the PP’ – both as a compliment and a criticism – became embroiled in a similar scandal after reports hit the media claiming she had not attended all her compulsory lectures or passed all her modules.
The Rey Juan Carlos University initially called it an ‘administration error’, but allegations of similar practices across the board involving professors and supervisors awarding grades for incomplete courses have since affected the institution.
This has never been the case so far with the Camilo José Cela University.
However, the last two days have also seen admissions from Barcelona’s mayoress Ada Colau that the city’s university ‘offered to let her take and complete two optional modules’ she had not completed during her undergraduate degree, and posts on Twitter have drawn attention to supposed changes in Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera’s CV: from having a degree, two master’s degrees and a PhD in 2015, to no longer having a PhD in 2016, current details of Rivera’s education show he only has an undergraduate degree.
Sánchez used to be a professor of Spanish and World Economics at the Camilo José Cela University and said earlier on Twitter that he had always been passionate about teaching, describing the daily tasks of preparing classes and material