18th June, 2012
The science journal Nature reported claims on Monday that Romania’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta had plagiarised large parts of his 2003 PhD thesis.
In a news article, Nature said it had seen documents compiled by an anonymous whistle-blower indicating that more than half of Ponta’s 432-page law thesis on the International Criminal Court, written in Romanian, “consists of duplicated text”.
“Moreover, the thesis was republished with very minor amendments as a Romanian-language book in 2004, and also forms the basis of a 2010 book on liability in international humanitarian law,” said the report.
A former PhD student of Ponta’s, Daniela Coman, is named as co-author.
The journal said Ponta had declined to comment on the claims, and it could not reach Coman.
The allegations come just a month after Ponta said his education minister Ioan Mang had resigned over allegations made by foreign researchers that he had copied scientific papers on information technology without attribution.
The prime minister had been forced to drop his first candidate for the education portfolio after she too was accused of plagiarism.
Hungary’s president Pal Schmitt resigned in April and Germany’s defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg in March last year, also over plagiarism allegations.
Nature said much of the text in Ponta’s work “seem to be identical, or almost so” to material in papers written in Romanian by two law scholars, and featured “direct Romanian translations of parts of an English-language publication” by another.
“If the charges are substantiated, they could spark public pressure for Ponta to resign,” said the journal, citing political insiders.
It added the claims “are also raising fresh doubts about the government’s ability to tackle corruption in the higher-education system.”
Romanian President Traian Basescu named Ponta, who leads the Social-Liberal Union, to take over from Mihai Razvan Ungureanu whose centre-right government collapsed in April after a no-confidence vote.
Nature said Ponta obtained his PhD from the University of Bucharest while acting as Secretary of State in the government of an earlier prime minister, Adrian Nastase, who was his PhD supervisor.