Health Minister resigns as ‘Mastergate’ scandal spreads

Health Minister Carmen Montón in press conference Tuesday annoucing her resignation. Photo: Jaime Villanueva / El País

Minister of Health Carmen Montón resigned her position late Tuesday, following revelations of multiple irregularities in a Master’s degree she obtained in 2011 from Madrid’s Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (URJC).

In a press conference called to announce her resignation, Montón expressed pride in her achievements as part of Spain’s new Socialist government led by President Pedro Sánchez and pointed to legislation reinstating universal healthcare and laying the groundwork for a new law protecting children against violence as highlights of her brief tenure as Health Minister.

Regarding the controversy over the Master’s degree, she was adamant. “I have been transparent and honest. I have not committed any irregularity,” she said, adding that she was only stepping down so the matter would not negatively impact the Sánchez government.


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The URJC is the same university implicated in awarding Master’s degrees under dubious circumstances to former Madrid regional community President Christina Cifuentes of the Partido Popular (PP), current PP President Pablo Casado and others, in a widening scandal dubbed “Mastergate” by some Spanish news media. Though awarded by the same university, Spanish news media reports have generally concurred that the irregularities in how Cifuentes and Casado were granted awarded their Master’s degrees are significantly more serious than those involved in Montón’s case.

Cifuentes, in the face of an imminent no-confidence vote in the Madrid regional assembly, was forced to resign in April amid charges that her degree had been awarded as a favor by URJC administrators. She is currently facing possible criminal charges in the matter. Casado, who as a Congressional deputy has so far been protected from giving testimony in a Madrid court, awaits a Supreme Court decision as to whether or not he will be compelled by the high court to testify on pending charges of bribery and concealment of evidence in relation to his Master’s degree.

Within hours of resigning, Montón had been replaced by María Luisa Carcedo, a surgeon and healthcare administrator who has served as a Socialist party deputy in her native Asturias and Spain’s Congress. After President Pedro Sanchez took office in June, Carcedo was named to the post of High Commissioner Against Child Poverty.

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