Plagiarism—First Guttenberg, Then Stoiber?

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Plagiarism—First Guttenberg, Then Stoiber?

German newspapers report on an allegation that Edmund Stoiber’s daughter is guilty of plagiarism.

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” quoth Marcellus in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Thinking people could be forgiven for thinking the same in reference to Germany concerning allegations of the plagiarism of doctoral theses attached to two names famous in German politics.

First it was Germany’s once most popular politician—currently the nation’s most popular ex-politician—Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. Now similar allegations have cropped up in reference to Veronica Sass, daughter of former Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber, who, as reported in a number of German newspapers, is said to have plagiarized part of her doctoral work in pursuit of her higher degree in law.

Two high-profile names in Bavarian-csu-German politics and a common allegation in relation to their names. What’s going on here? Is this pure coincidence or is someone on some sort of queer vendetta? Makes you wonder.

For someone to dig around into Guttenberg’s background, and, finding him apparently otherwise immune to political destruction, having to resort to digging around and checking his academic achievements, subjecting his doctoral thesis to intense and widely publicized scrutiny to the point of then having Germany’s most popular politician resign on the eve of elections crucial to the survival of the Merkel government, always sounded very fishy.

But why resort to the same tactics for the daughter of elder Bavarian statesman Edmund Stoiber? What’s going on here? And, more to the point, who’s behind this and who’s likely to be next?

It’s all rather intriguing.

Is someone fearful of a Stoiber comeback and intent on blackening his family name to mitigate that?

Chancellor Angela Merkel is on the back foot politically, her party, the Christian Democratic Union (cdu), having now lost badly in Hamburg’s state election, lost ground in Saxony-Anhalt, barely held on to its existing proportion of the Catholic vote in Rhineland Palatinate—the result being retention of Social Democratic leadership in that state—and been thoroughly trounced on its home turf in Baden-Württemberg. The next state election will be Bremen in May, followed by Mecklenburg-Vorpommen and Berlin in September. Merkel’s problem is that she has lost the cream of the crop of experienced cdu-csu politicians over the past year and is left with little to offer in terms of leadership strength to man her various coalition ministries. It would be no surprise then if her political rivals are hard at work seeking to blacken the names of any of her former colleagues who might attempt a comeback should she be forced to call an election in the wake of continuing declines in cdu/fdp fortunes in the remaining three elections.

Politics is a murky game, and as the Guttenberg fracas showed, there are some who will leave no stone unturned to destroy the political fortunes of those who do not agree with their particular ideology. Whatever the outcome of Germany’s remaining elections, one thing is certain. The whole face of politics is undergoing a sea change in Germany in 2011. With the nation now the dominant force in Europe economically, financially and politically, and now asserting its own sovereign role against all comers in foreign policy, it is only lack of powerful, charismatic leadership that is holding Germany back from baring its teeth as the supreme ruling power in Europe and a force to be reckoned with internationally.

If Merkel is forced to call an election later this year, it will be intriguing to see who pops out of the woodwork to take the chancellorship and assume leadership of Europe’s most powerful nation.