POLITICS

Spanish PM likely to escape further questioning in Congress over plagiarism

The publication by Pedro Sánchez of his thesis has, for parties such as Podemos, drawn a line over the controversy, something that may come as a relief for the Popular Party

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in Congress last week.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in Congress last week.ULY MARTIN

An initiative aimed at forcing Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to appear in Congress to answer questions about alleged plagiarism in his doctoral thesis is unlikely to prosper, given opposition from the left-wing Unidos Podemos party and the nationalist parties in Congress.

The controversy over the Socialist Party politician’s 2011 academic work was sparked last week when the leader of center-right group Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, raised doubts about it during a parliamentary session in Congress. Several Spanish media outlets published claims that Sánchez had copied other authors, and that the thesis may have been written by someone else. As the pressure mounted on the prime minister, he made the text public on Friday. Analysis by EL PAÍS has concluded that the text does not contain plagiarism.

Pablo Casado is currently under investigation by the Supreme Court over alleged irregularities related to a master’s degree

It was Ciudadanos and the conservative Popular Party (PP) who were calling for Sánchez to appear in Congress over the issue. However, since he published the thesis the other parties – on whom the prime minister relies on for support, given that he is in a minority government – do not see any need to support the initiative.

This will likely come as something of a relief for the PP and its current leader, Pablo Casado, who is currently under investigation by the Supreme Court over alleged irregularities related to a master’s degree that he studied for at Madrid’s King Juan Carlos University (URCJ). Casado has denied any wrongdoing over the accusations that he was awarded the degree without having attended classes, and has so far refused to follow Sánchez’s lead and make his end-of-course thesis public.

The issue – which dominated the news agenda last week, after PSOE Health Minister Carmen Montón was forced to quit over plagiarism and other irregularities related to her own master’s degree from the URJC – is losing its appeal for opposition parties, who are more interested in tackling subjects such as economic inequalities, in the case of Podemos, and a referendum in Catalonia, in the case of the region’s nationalist parties.

With the publication of the thesis, they believe that the controversy has run its course.

There is nothing to stop the PP or Ciudadanos from questioning the prime minister about the issue in ordinary sessions in Congress

That said, there is nothing to stop the PP or Ciudadanos from questioning the prime minister about the issue in ordinary sessions in Congress. In fact, the PSOE is happy to keep the debate going, if Rivera and Casado wish. “Mr Rivera should rectify the situation or quit, while Mr Casado needs to make his thesis public or go home,” one party source said.

Sources from the PP, meanwhile, are keen to put the issue to bed. “We need to get away from this subject as soon as possible,” said sources from the leadership of the conservative, given that it constantly brings to the fore the judicial inquiry into Casado’s master’s degree.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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