Hungarian President Pal Schmitt resigned Monday because of a plagiarism scandal regarding a doctoral dissertation he had written 20 years ago on the Olympics.
Schmitt, who was elected to his largely ceremonial office in 2010 for a five-year term, told Parliament he was stepping down because the controversy over his dissertation was dividing Hungary.
“When my personal issue divides my beloved nation instead of uniting it, I feel it to be my personal duty to finish my service and resign,” Schmitt said, drawing applause and cheers from opposition lawmakers. “I ask God’s blessing for Hungary and for your work.”
Schmitt, 69, then quickly left the chamber accompanied by Prime Minister Viktor Orban as lawmakers from the governing parties — Orban’s Fidesz and the Christian Democrats — gave him a standing ovation.
Parliament later voted 338-5, with six abstentions, to accept Schmitt’s resignation.
Last week, Schmitt’s 1992 doctorate from Semmelweis University was revoked after a university committee found that most of his thesis about the modern Olympic Games had been copied from two other authors.
The International Olympic Committee said Monday it would review the case and decide whether any action is needed against Schmitt, who has been an IOC member since 1983. Schmitt, who won gold medals at the 1968 and 1972 Olympics for fencing, could face IOC sanctions for tarnishing the Olympic movement.
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