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Rumours about Schmitt’s resignation: the President of Hungary in Christian Wulff’s footsteps?

February 21st, 2012

Speculation about the impending resignation of Pál Schmitt continues in the press, as both the Government and the Office of the President maintain their silence about the plagiarism scandal.HVG broke the news in early January that the doctoral dissertation of Pál Schmitt – who signs his name with the title „Dr.” – was entirely copied from two sources, a Bulgarian sports diplomat and a German researcher. For the first reactions to the case see BudaPost, January 16. The alleged plagiarism case is under investigation by a secret committee at SOTE, the medical university in Budapest. Earlier, József Pálinkás, president of the Hungarian Academy of Science  claimed the Academy had no authority to investigate. The Committee at SOTE is expected to deliver its verdict by the 28th of March.

Népszabadság notes that Schmitt has been conspicuosly absent from Hungarian public life since the scandal broke. It quotes the political scientist Zoltán Kiszelly who thinks „Pál Schmitt is obviously trying to avoid public appearances and publicity. He has been in a highly embarrassing situation since it was discovered that the last chapter of his dissertation was also the verbatim pokies casino translation of a German scholar’s text.” Schmitt claimed earlier that he used the same material the Bulgarian professor had used, to draw his own conclusions.

Népszava, in an opinion piece by Ferenc Kepecs, entitled „Presidents Here and There”, compares German Bundespresident Christian Wulff and Pál Schmitt. According to Kepecs, „the two men are of similar character”, as Christian Wulff is known as a smooth and pleasant person, „the ideal son-in-law”. Kepecs finds their political positions comparable as well, with both Schmitt and Wulff appointed by a right-wing majority.  One conspicuous difference the commentator does not dwell upon is that Wulff was officially suspected of corruption by the federal prosecutor before his decision to resign. Kepecs thinks both presidents „compromised the moral standing of their office”. However – he claims – the fact that Christian Wulff resigned while Pál Schmitt holds on to his seat reveals the major difference between Germany and Hungary. „Angela Merkel the German Chancellor stated clearly that the resignation of Wulff was proof of the power of democracy in Germany. Merkel is right. So what does it prove if Pál Schmitt stays on?”

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