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The controversial title of the conservative Cifuentes unleashes “mastergate” in Spain

Ⓒ AFP/Archivos – Cristina Quicler – | For almost a month, Cifuentes, of the Popular Party (PP) of Mariano Rajoy, is in the eye of the hurricane because of the numerous indications that he would have fraudulently obtained a master’s degree at the public university Rey Juan Carlos

Inflated curricula, degrees that were never had … The controversy surrounding the conservative president of the Madrid region, Cristina Cifuentes, has led to a “mastergate” in Spain, where several politicians had to correct their curriculum in the last days.

For almost a month, Cifuentes, of the Popular Party (PP) of Mariano Rajoy, is in the eye of the hurricane because of the numerous indications that he had fraudulently obtained a master’s degree at the public university Rey Juan Carlos.

The opposition demands its resignation and the public prosecutor’s office investigates if there was falsification in public document, after knowing among other details that some of the signatures of their file were false.

The interested announced on Tuesday that she renounces “the use of the title”, a master’s degree in Regional Law, but ruled out leaving the position, because according to her has not committed “any illegality” and “there is no reason for resignation, beyond interests politicians”.

The Cifuentes case has served to uncover that other politicians from different parties distorted their curriculum or obtained qualifications under advantageous conditions, as happened with Pablo Casado, a member of the PP board.

Married acknowledged that in 2008/2009, when he was a law graduate and deputy in the regional Parliament of Madrid, he obtained a master’s degree in King Juan Carlos through the fast track: he was validated 18 subjects out of a total of 22 and was exempted from attend class.

“I did exactly what was asked of me,” Casado said to justify himself. His tutor was the same as that of Cifuentes, Enrique Álvarez Conde, provisionally suspended on Friday by the university before the indications of irregularities.

Ⓒ AFP – César Manso – | The Cifuentes case has served to uncover that other politicians from different parties distorted their curriculum or obtained qualifications under advantageous conditions, as happened with Pablo Casado, a member of the PP board.

At the same time it was learned that the leader of the Socialist Party in the region of Madrid, José Manuel Franco, said for years that he had a degree in Mathematics, when in fact he never finished it.

And in the Ciudadanos party, a member of the legislature of Cifuentes in Madrid and a strong rival of the PP in the center-right, the national deputy Toni Cantó acknowledged that the mention of “pedagogue” on his CV did not correspond to a university degree, but to that he taught theater classes “for many years”.

The controversy has also affected Podemos, a radical left party that has demanded the resignation of Cifuentes from the first moment. The Secretary of Organization of this training in Galicia (northwest) and regional deputy, Juan José Merlo, resigned on Friday after admitting that he inflated his resume inventing that he was an engineer.

And in the Basque separatist coalition Bildu, his spokesman in the Basque Parliament, Julen Arzuaga, went from appearing on his official record as the head of a “specialist master’s degree in Human Rights” to being more vague “university specialist in Human Rights in a Global world”.

– The vice of “titulitis” –

The background picture is what in Spain is known as “titulitis”, that is, the fever to accumulate university diplomas, in a country where postgraduate degrees proliferated as mushrooms in both public and private centers.

“We have a fundamental problem that is this idea of ​​’titulitis’, that is, the idea that it is good for our politicians to have a university degree (…) and this in many cases we have seen that it has been done with a huge opacity, “said political scientist Pablo Simon recently in an interview with the newspaper El País.

According to him, in Spain there have been ministers and party leaders “whose doctoral theses are not public”.

Ⓒ AFP/Archivos – Gerard Julien – | The leader of Citizens, Albert Rivera (right), with the deputies of the formation Toni Cantó (center) and Juan Carlos Girauta, in Madrid in 2016

And he suspects that behind all this there is a “totally patrimonial conception, which suggests that today [politicians] buy university degrees just as in the 19th century the titles of nobility were bought, to have them, but not because they really carry a value” .

– The PP counterattacks –

For its part, the PP has taken advantage of cases arising in other parties to defend Cifuentes and its control of the Community of Madrid, facing a 2019 in which Spain will hold municipal, regional and European elections.

Javier Maroto, a member of the national board, asked Citizens and socialists on Monday to “give an example” and put “Tiptoe on the street” to Toni Cantó and José Manuel Franco.

“Today is very much in vogue what the Spanish saying says: I see that for me, I do not have it, it seems to me that every new case we are going through, and there are a few, is worse,” Rajoy said on Friday. dropped Cifuentes.

“I have the support of my party and my president, of course”, riveted the interested party on Tuesday.

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