Hungarian President used 'duplications' in thesis

March 28, 2012

An investigating committee found that the 1992 doctoral thesis by current Hungarian President Pál Schmitt contained "duplications" on the works of other authors but still, the panel concluded that it was not Schmitt's fault but that of the university that accepted his dissertation.

The committee published a summary that says parts of Schmitt's dissertation at the University of Physical Education contained either "complete or extensive duplications" from earlier works by Bulgarian sports historian Nikolai Georgiev and German sport sociologist Klaus Heinemann.

However, the five-member panel said Schmitt's dissertation entitled "The Analysis of the Programs of the Modern Olympic Games" complied with the formal requirements of the time, despite a lack of footnotes and bibliography annotations and other flaws.

The report summary blamed the University of Physical Education for not noticing the duplications in time, and hence giving the impression to the author that the thesis met the university's expectations.

The antecedent of the committee's investigation was an article in January this year in the Hungarian news magazine HVG alleging that Pál Schmitt plagiarized his thesis. The magazine found that 180 of the 215 pages were the translation of exceprts of a study by Georgiev and 17 pages were taken from Heinemann - over 91% of the total amount of the dissertation.

Gabriella Selmeczi, spokeswoman for the ruling center-right Fidesz party who supported the appointment of Schmitt to the role of president, said the case was now closed.

However, all the opposition parties called for the resignation of the President for "plagiarizing his dissertation". Attila Mesterházy, president of the Socialists, insisted that it was obvious that Schmitt had "stolen" his thesis.

The far-right Jobbik party also called the findings of the investigation 'ridiculous', the green party LMP organized a flashmob demanding the President's resignation where  the presented two "real doctors", while the Democratic Coalition is of the view that the Orbán government "finds it right if his men steal."

Update (March 29): The Senate of Semmelweis University (where now the University of Physical Education belongs) deprived Pál Schmitt of his "Dr." title.


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