When it comes to plagiarism scandals involving high-ranking government officials, Germany is easily the most prolific country. A combination of a culture that prizes PhDs in high-level positions and an active electorate that is actively seeking evidence of plagiarism has caused what feels like scandal after scandal in the country.
Schavan’s scandal was thought to be potentially dangerous to her party, the Social Democrats, as it hit shortly before Germany’s national election and Schavan was seen as a close confidant of the country’s Prime Minister, Angela Merkel. However, with the election safely behind the country and Merkel and her party still in power, yet another scandal has come to light.
Specifically, Kamenz says that there are 500 areas of similarities to some 100 sources. Based upon his findings, Kamenz sent an email to Steinmeier’s alma mater, University of of Giessen, asking them to open up an investigation and possibly revoke Steinmeier’s doctorate.
The case is the first since the German Research Foundation changed its policy to state that universities should not investigate claims of plagiarism solely on the basis of anonymous tips. However, since Kamenz has made his identity known, the policy does not apply in this case and the university is free to investigate if it sees fit.
On that note, it seems likely that the university will do just that. Not only is the evidence, at least what little is known about it, disconcerting, but the source of the complaint is from another university professor. While none of this means that Steinmeier plagiarized, it does give the university reason to be concerned and to gather more information.
As for Steinmeier, his confidence has been mirrored by others who faced these scandals before him, including both Schavan and Guttenberg. Even though he may truly believe that vindication is right around the corner, that hasn’t been the case for others. Hopefully he, unlike his peers, has not misplaced his confidence in his earlier works.