Finnish presidential candidate plagiarised master’s thesis, investigation finds

Finnish presidential candidate plagiarised master’s thesis, investigation finds
Copyright REUTERS/Tuomas Forsell
By Alice Cuddy
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Which other European politicians have been accused of plagiarising work or faking degrees?


A Finnish MP has insisted she did not intentionally cheat in her master’s thesis, after an investigation found that the 2018 presidential candidate had plagiarised large parts of the work.

The University of Jyväskylä said an external probe had found that Laura Huhtasaari’s 2003 thesis, "Cultural Practices in Multicultural Basic Education", had undermined good scientific practice.

“Procedures have been such as to mislead the scientific community of researchers and the authors of future theses. By their nature and scope, the violations of good scientific practice are serious,” it said in a press release.

The investigation revealed that around 80% of the populist Finns Party politician’s thesis conclusions on multicultural teaching had been copied without attribution.

However, the university is not planning to take any further action on the issue, as it said the time to do so had passed “from an administrative point of view.”

Huhtasaari has dismissed the allegations of plagiarism in the thesis, which originally surfaced at the beginning of the year.

“I definitely think this is just to stain my campaign,” she said in an interview with News Now Finland, referring to her presidential bid in January in which she received around 6.9% of the votes.

Responding to the probe’s findings on Twitter, Huhtasaari said that when she drafted her master’s thesis 15 years ago she “tried to follow the instructions” and had not intentionally cheated.

The politician has previously been accused of plagiarising online posts for her blogs.

Huhtasaari did not immediately respond to Euronews' requests for comment. 

Other politicians accused of plagiarism or fraud

Huhtasaari is not the first European politician to be accused of plagiarism or fraud.

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg: German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg quit his post in 2011 and gave up his doctoral title after allegations that he had plagiarised sections of his thesis.

Guttenberg admitted that he had made “serious mistakes” with the work, but insisted they were not intentional.

Annette Schavan: In 2013, German Education Minister Annette Schavan resigned after being stripped of her doctorate over plagiarism accusations that she denied.

Giuseppe Conte: Proposed Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte was accused of inflating his academic credentials.

In a CV posted by Conte on a law association website, he said he had "perfected his judicial studies" at numerous foreign institutions, including Cambridge University, New York University and the Sorbonne in Paris.

The Sorbonne and New York University (NYU) said they could not find any trace of him in their databases.

Cristina Cifuentes: Spanish politician Cristina Cifuente was accused this year of fraudulently obtaining a master’s degree in law.


The senior People’s Party member was accused of manipulating grades and falsifying signatures on records of a postgraduate qualification from 2012.

She resigned as President of the Community of Madrid after the release of a 2011 video that showed her being detained for shoplifting.

Pablo Casado: The leader of Spain’s People’s Party, Pablo Casado, was also investigated over allegations of improperly obtaining a master’s degree.

The investigation into the 2009 degree came after a judge found irregularities in the qualification, which he obtained why working as a regional deputy for the party.

He admitted to not attending classes or taking exams.

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