Irregularities had been found in master’s awarded to Carmen Montón by Madrid university
Spain’s health minister, Carmen Montón, has resigned after becoming the latest senior politician to find her educational qualifications under scrutiny.
Montón stepped down on Tuesday night following a series of reports detailing irregularities in her master’s degree in interdisciplinary gender studies, which was awarded by King Juan Carlos University in Madrid seven years ago.
She insisted she had been “transparent and honest”, but an investigation by the online newspaper El Diario found discrepancies over her attendance and the marks awarded. Moreover, it emerged on Tuesday that Montón had plagiarised passages from Wikipedia and other websites in her final degree work.
The MP claimed she had done nothing wrong and, in an apparent reference to the opposition People’s party (PP) politicians who have faced questions over their degrees, said: “We’re not all the same.”
She paid tribute to Pedro Sánchez, the Socialist prime minister who appointed her after being sworn in three months ago, as she left office.
“Spanish men and women have a fantastic prime minister and I’ve informed him of my resignation so that this situation doesn’t get in the way,” Montón said.
Earlier that day, Sánchez had given the minister his backing. “She’s doing a great job and will carry on doing so,” he said.
The prime minister later tweeted his thanks: “In your 100 days at the helm of the health ministry, you have restored universal healthcare in our country and you’ve worked tirelessly to return and increase rights. Thanks, Carmen Montón, for your commitment to equality and social justice. Your brave decision does you credit.”
Pedro Sánchez ✔ @sanchezcastejon En 100 días al frente de @sanidadgob has recuperado la sanidad universal en nuestro país, has trabajado sin descanso para devolver y ampliar derechos. Gracias, @carmenmonton, por tu compromiso con la igualdad y la justicia social. Tu decisión, valiente, te honra.
Montón is the second minister Sánchez has lost since he used a vote of no confidence to unseat his PP predecessor, Mariano Rajoy, amid public anger over the party’s corruption and cronyism.
In June, the culture minister, Màxim Huerta, resigned following media reports that he had avoided paying taxes while working as a TV journalist 10 years ago.
Pablo Casado, the new PP leader, has also faced questions over his academic record. Earlier this year, it emerged the postgraduate degree he claims to hold from Harvard had in fact been earned by attending a four-day course in Madrid. He has also admitted he was awarded a master’s degree in public regional law by King Juan Carlos University despite not being required to attend classes or take exams.
Spain’s supreme court is looking into Casado’s degree and will decide whether the investigations should continue. However, PP sources maintain that Casado’s case is very different from that of Montón, arguing their leader has not been accused of plagiarism or falsification.
In April, Cristina Cifuentes, the PP head of Madrid’s regional government, resigned after video footage emerged of her apparently being caught stealing two tubs of face cream seven years ago. Cifuentes had also been under pressure to quit over allegations of irregularities in her master’s degree from King Juan Carlos University.
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