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Budapest mayor and candidate for prime minister, Gergely Karácsony, might have taught unlawfully at Corvinus before his political career, according to the Education Authority’s investigation, pro-Fidesz daily Magyar Nemzet wrote. Karácsony, however, regularly denies any such claim and attributes the pro-government media’s special attention to government circles now in fear of losing their power to him.

Karácsony’s unofficial and official language knowledge has been on the agenda since this May. Back then, it was revealed that he often used an interpreter as his English isn’t good enough to participate in international negotiations, which admission landed him a great deal of criticism from pro-government circles, but not exclusively from them.

Besides promising that he would hold his first press conference as prime minister in English, he commented that “Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s spoken English is probably better than mine, there is at least as much difference between our language skills as there is between a Soros scholarship in England [Orbán studied in Oxford with one of the Hungarian-born billionaire’s scholarships] and an intermediate level exam done at university.”

However, it has been suggested in the pro-government media that he might have unlawfully filled a teaching position in Budapest’s Corvinus University (where he had been working from 2004 up until officially becoming a politician more than a decade ago).

Karácsony regularly rebuffs criticism and accusations about this, insisting that he had the relevant exam and was doing everything in compliance with the regulations in effect at the time.

Education Authority finds irregularities

In the latest developments, the Education Authority (a state body overseen by the government) seems to confirm this last claim, according to pro-Fidesz daily Magyar Nemzet. The Ed. Authority allegedly revised thirty-two lecturers’ employment, but irregularities were only found in the case of the Párbeszéd politician, who OH says lacked a language exam and a doctoral candidate status, and as a result he couldn’t have taught as an assistant or adjunct professor at Corvinus.

The body found that the appointment of Karácsony as assistant professor didn’t comply with the institutional regulations because he didn’t have the required minimum of a C-level language examination or an equivalent state-recognized diploma. His appointment as an assistant professor was also found irregular, because on the basis of the documents available, he had not started his doctoral studies.

Even the central government took up the debate lately, and according to the PMO head: “It is certain that Gergely Karácsony has experienced favoritism.” Gulyás added that the mayor should report on the case himself and draw appropriate conclusions. The resignation of public officials was demanded even for lesser offenses, Gulyás added.

Fact

The minister was potentially referring to Fidesz-elected former president, Pál Schmitt’s case. The former Olympic champion fencer and Hungarian Olympic Committee president was caught plagiarizing his doctoral thesis, eventually leading to his resignation in 2012.

Karácsony: It’s a smear campaign, Fidesz only fears for their power

“I see public administration has been put out on the battlefield to provide ammunition for the smear campaign against me, to have something to spend that daily 1.5 million on [referring to recent news regarding Fidesz spending some HUF 1.5 million (EUR 4,300) daily on campaigning against him on social media]. My only regret is that with their large smear campaign, of which I am the target, they are targeting universities, teachers, and professors, who have nothing to do with the fact that Orbán and his team fear- and rightly so- for their power. So let me be clear: I am proud of the nearly ten years I have spent as a lecturer at Corvinus, I am proud of my students, I am proud of the scientific work we have done together. And some Fidesz servants will never be able to take that away from me,” he recently reacted on Facebook.

featured image via Márton Mónus/MTI