Derision as Madrid leader ‘gives up’ scandal-hit degree
Cifuentes holding up her degree certificate in a congressional session. Photo: PP
Madrid's conservative regional president said Tuesday she was giving up a masters degree she is suspected of obtaining fraudulently and may never even have passed, sparking derision on social networks.
Cristina Cifuentes has been caught in a media storm over accusations she got the 2011-2012 law diploma from Madrid's King Juan Carlos University (URJC) without taking all the required exams and rarely attending lectures.
The university rector himself admitted the document attesting she had passed it was a "re-construction" of the original, with two professors' signatures faked, sparking a probe.
"I hereby inform you of my decision to GIVE UP using the degree issued by the King Juan Carlos University," Cifuentes, of the ruling Popular Party (PP), said in a letter to the rector Javier Ramos that was published in Spanish media.
The opposition wants Cifuentes, 53, to resign over the scandal, but for now, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has not withdrawn his support for her.
Her decision instead to give up the degree sparked huge derision on social networks, with the hashtag #YoRenuncio (#IGiveUp in Spanish) a worldwide trend on Twitter.
Si Cristina Cifuentes puede renunciar al máster que la URJC no puede asegurar que cursó, yo renuncio al Premio Nobel de la Paz. #YoRenuncio
— Sergio (@_23Sergio) April 17, 2018
"If Cristina Cifuentes can give up a masters which the URJC cannot ascertain she did, I give up on the Nobel Peace Prize," tweeted @_23Sergio.
#YoRenuncio a mi Oscar. Es culpa de la academia no dejar claro si lo tengo o no. Malditos. Toda mi ilusión a la basura.
— Josep L. Cardo (@JosepLCardo) April 17, 2018
"#IGiveUp my Oscar. It's the academy's fault for not being clear if I have it or not. Damn you. All my hopes down the drain," joked @JosepLCardo.
In her letter, Cifuentes — who maintains she passed the degree — said she had "always acted in accordance with the law and within the academic leeway established" by the university.
But she apologised for those who may have felt "offended" by the special treatment she was given, including not having to go to class for a masters degree that requires students to be present.
After revelations over her masters, other conservative and left-wing politicians have been called out over the validity of their degrees.
It emerged, for instance, that another senior PP member, Pablo Casado, had written on his CV that he had a postgraduate degree from Harvard University that turned out to be a four-day course in Aravaca, a Madrid district.
Such was the derision that Netflix Spain posted on Twitter a picture of its popular series Stranger Things, replacing the name of its fictional town Hawkins, where odd going-ons happen, with Aravaca.