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A Spanish conservative leader, besieged by the accusation of falsifying a university degree

Ⓒ AFP/Archivos – José Jordán – | Cristina Cifuentes smiles during the end of campaign rally of the Popular Party for the general elections of 2016, on June 24 of that year in Madrid

The conservative leader of the Madrid region, Cristina Cifuentes, a prominent figure of the conservative party of Mariano Rajoy, was on Wednesday in the middle of a political storm over the supposed falsification of a university master’s degree.

“You have lost all your credibility,” snapped the regional parliamentary spokesman for the leftist Podemos party, Lorena Ruiz-Huerta, who asked for the resignation of Cifuentes.

The controversy was born two weeks ago, when the digital newspaper eldiario.es published that the president of Madrid, in office since 2015, would have obtained a master’s degree at the public university Rey Juan Carlos thanks to the falsification of the grades of two subjects, an information that denies categorically.

This Wednesday, the accusations were aggravated when another digital, El Confidencial, assured that two signatures of a document presented by the policy to prove that it had regularly obtained the title had been falsified.

The controversy occurs when there is little more than a year to the regional elections of May 2019. In them, the left opposition (Socialist Party and Podemos) will try to oust the Popular Party in a region that together with Catalonia is the most powerful of Spain at the economic level. Ciudadanos, rival of the PP in the center-right, is also on the lookout.

Cifuentes appeared Wednesday before the regional parliament to defend himself, and asserted that “neither [his] curriculum nor [his] qualifications have been falsified.”

“All the subjects, including the end of master’s work, were qualified and approved,” insisted the regional leader of the PP, who denounced the accusations as “an operation of discredit” against his person and ruled out resigning.

However, he did not present the end-of-master project, which he said he lost in a move and in whose absence all the suspicions of his detractors are focused.

Explanations from Cifuentes did not convince the opposition, and Podemos asked for his resignation. “You can not continue to govern this autonomous community, because nobody believes her anymore,” Podemos spokeswoman Lorena Ruiz-Huerta told her.

“His intervention has not cleared the reasonable doubts on this matter”, abounded the socialist spokesman Angel Gabilondo.

The case of Cifuentes comes a year after he resigned from the last positions held by Esperanza Aguirre, another great figure of the Madrid PP.

Aguirre resigned in April 2017 as councilor of the PP in the city of the capital after the arrest for a case of corruption of Ignacio González, his right hand while presiding over the region of Madrid from 2003 to 2012 and his successor in this position.

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