When a political career ends in disgrace, it is usually over a dodgy backroom deal, an extramarital affair or rumours of a sordid sexual fetish. Not in Germany, where the darkest possible stain on a politician’s honour is a slapdash footnote in their doctoral thesis.
Or so it seems, after family minister Franziska Giffey last week became the third minister of a Merkel government to leave office over PhD plagiarism accusations, while the Green party’s candidate for the chancellery was forced to release her LSE degree certificate to fend off accusations she had inflated her intellectual credentials.
Giffey, a Social Democrat who will run to become the next mayor of Berlin in spite of her resignation, left her post after reports that the German capital’s Free University is considering revoking her PhD in political science over academic malpractice.
Her stepping down makes plagiarism scandals the single most common cause for premature departures from…