Health Minister Carmen Montón has become the latest Spanish politician to become caught up in an ongoing controversy over master’s degrees awarded by Madrid’s King Juan Carlos University (URJC). As reported today by Spanish news website eldiario.es, the grades that Montón achieved on a master’s course in Interdisciplinary Gender Studies were changed subsequent to its completion.
This latest episode in connection with the URJC comes after irregularities emerged regarding master’s degrees obtained at the same institution by former Madrid regional premier Cristina Cifuentes, and by the current leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP) Pablo Casado. Both Cifuentes and Casado deny any wrongdoing, although the former was eventually forced to step down after a video of her attempting to steal items from a supermarket was leaked to the press, compounding the master’s scandal that she was already caught up in.
Montón claims to have followed all instructions and requirements communicated to her by the university
Socialist Party (PSOE) Health Minister Montón has also denied any wrongdoing, using a similar argument to the one voiced by both Cifuentes and Casado: that they simply followed instructions and requirements communicated to them by the URJC.
In the wake of today’s news, the URJC released a statement saying that Montón’s “file is being reviewed course by course, to establish in which context these grade changes that have been revealed by an inspection were made.”
The URJC added that the investigations were being carried out with “the utmost diligence” so that there will be results “soon” and “appropriate measures” can be taken.
On Tuesday morning Montón once again insisted that she had not done anything wrong. But voices within her own party are starting to demand that she step down.
“When I handed over my final thesis, I took that to mean that I had passed everything,” she said in an interview with radio network Cadena SER. “I think that a person who has done nothing irregular should not be undermined.”
According to her student records, at least one part of the course is marked as “not submitted”
“I am in constant contact with the prime minister [Pedro Sánchez], and the deputy prime minister [Carmen Calvo.] [Sánchez] wants me to be strong and to give clear explanations,” she said this morning.
According to the story published by eldiario.es, Montón did not pass all parts of the masters’ course in June 2011. According to her student records, at least one part of the coursework is marked as “not submitted.”
The minister has stated that she handed over her final thesis on gender studies in June 2011, something that would have been irregular since at the time she had not completed all of the coursework – an essential requisite.
Health Minister Carmen Montón
On November 25, 2011, “someone entered the IT system” of the URJC and changed “not submitted” to a “pass,” despite the fact that the administrative procedures for the course had been closed, according to eldiario.es. This alleged modification of the grades outside of the deadline would explain why Montón’s official certificate states that she completed the course in 2012.
“I have no response for that because this is outside my area of responsibility,” Montón stated a day after the controversy first broke.
For now, her own party and the government are stupporting Montón. However, the fear of both the PSOE and Sánchez’s executive is that more revelations about the case will emerge – as they have done today.
“I will continue to face the music,” Montón stated in this morning’s interview with Cadena SER.
English version by Simon Hunter.