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Merkel’s potential successor apologizes after book on immigration was flagged for plagiarism

Merkel’s potential successor apologizes after book on immigration was flagged for plagiarism
As parliamentary elections in Germany loom, chancellor candidate and leader of the ruling Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) Armin Laschet has issued an apology over a lacking source in a book he wrote.

The potential plagiarism incident had been brought to light by a consultant and publicist, Karsten Weitzenegger, who shared a side-by-side comparison of his own work that Laschet had failed to reference. Weitzenegger also stated that the case was brought to his attention by ‘plagiarism hunter’ Martin Heidingsfelder.

Laschet’s book in question, which included the part, dates back to 2009 and is titled: “The Ascending Republic. Immigration as an opportunity”.

On Friday, the CDU Chairman claimed responsibility for the error, explaining that “at least one author of the material used in the book is not mentioned either in the text or in the list of sources”.

Alongside his apology, Laschet promised to have the book further analyzed immediately “in order to clarify whether there are other errors”.

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Laschet, who stands a chance of succeeding Merkel as chancellor of Germany, is not the first politician to come under fire recently for academic malpractice. A rival Green party candidate, Annalena Baerbock, was scrutinized earlier for failing to correctly reference five sources in her new book. A party spokesperson called the plagiarism accusations attempted “character assassination”.

The recent findings of academic misconduct do not bode well in Laschet’s favor ahead of the September 26 parliamentary elections. While the CDU are in the lead of the electoral race, the Union’s chairman has been losing popularity. Laschet was staunchly criticized for laughing during a visit to regions in Western Germany that were rocked by fatal floods earlier in July.

Over the last decade a number of German politicians have had their academic integrity attacked. For political figures, plagiarism is a serious offence to be accused of, one that can be potentially career-destroying. Germany’s former defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, was found guilty of borrowing passages of other authors’ work without correctly citing them, leading to his resignation in 2011.

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