Presidential Plagiarism


Hungarian President Pal Schmitt has finally been de-doctorated.

He knew it was coming -  Budapest's Semmelweis University had been debating what to do with Schmitt since January, when news first broke that most of the president's doctoral thesis was plagiarized. Nevertheless, Schmitt took the day off to scratch "PhD" from his CV and to reflect on next steps. Some speculate that the president will resign in disgrace. 

A similar scandal forced German Defense Minister (and Baron) Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg to quit his post last year, despite Angela Merkel's supportive argument: "I did not choose him as a research assistant." Guttenberg had copy-and-pasted parts of his PhD dissertation on the development of constitutional law in the United States and the European Union. 

In contrast, President Schmitt's plagiarized PhD was written for the Hungarian University of Physical Education. It's about sports. And Schmitt himself is no German Minister of Defense, but rather a bit of a president-lite, with a role described by the BBC as "largely ceremonial". His real interest is the epée, as a gold-medal Olympic fencer.

Not a real president, not a real doctorate - it doesn't seem too upsetting. Yet members of the opposition party "Politics Can Be Different" have seized upon this academic embarassment as a political moment akin to Occupy Wall Street or the Arab Spring. Activists are already camped out in front of the Palace. Opposition party member David Dorosz told Reuters, "We're staying until Pal Schmitt resigns, until this case is reassuringly resolved."


Image Credit: Reuters