Merkel Loses Minister: Schavan Steps Down amid Plagiarism Scandal
One of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's closest confidants stepped down on Saturday following a plagiarism scandal. Stripped of her doctorate on Tuesday, Annette Schavan became a heavy burden to her party as Germany heads into an election year.
German Education and Research Minister Annette Schavan announced her resignation on Saturday in a joint press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
German Education Minister Annette Schavan announced her resignation on Saturday, just days after a university moved to strip her of her Ph.D. title in a plagiarism scandal surrounding her doctoral dissertation. She announced her decision during a joint press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
A visibly uncomfortable Schavan told journalists: "I thank the chancellor. I thank you, dear Angela, for your words today and your friendship." She also once again denied the allegations of plagiarism. "I will not accept the university's decision," she said. "I neither copied nor deceived." She added that the allegations had shaken her to the core.
Schavan has been a confidant of Merkel's, and the chancellor was reserved in her words regarding the minister in recent days, saying that she had her "full confidence." Following the European Union summit on Friday, Merkel said only that she would be meeting with Schavan.
On Tuesday, the faculty council of the University of Düsseldorf voted 12 to 2 to strip Schavan of her doctorate. "As a doctoral candidate, she systematically and deliberately presented intellectual efforts throughout her entire dissertation that were not her own," the university stated. Large sections of the work, officials continued, had been taken from elsewhere without adequate attribution. As such, she was guilty of "intentional deception through plagiarism."
Schavan's attorneys announced they would sue to appeal the decision immediately after. At least initially, she also seemed to have the support of most in her conservative Christian Democratic Union party, where officials believe the university had acted incorrectly. Schavan submitted her dissertation over 30 years ago.
Schavan is the second member of Merkel's cabinet to step down because of plagiarism allegations. In 2011, Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg stepped down after he was found to have plagiarized large sections of his Ph.D. thesis.
Schavan is to be replaced by Johanna Wanka, the CDU Education Minister in the northwestern state of Lower Saxony.
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