Austrian labour minister quits over plagiarism allegations

ZURICH (REUTERS) – Austria’s Labour Minister Christine Aschbacher has resigned after allegations that she plagiarised some of her university work, but denied any wrongdoing and said she was stepping down to protect her family.

Aschbacher, a member of the conservative Austrian People’s Party which leads the coalition government, allegedly copied at least one fifth of her doctoral dissertation from other sources, as well as chunks of her diploma thesis, according to academic Stefan Weber who specialises in detecting plagiarism.

Aschbacher said she had written her dissertation and thesis”to the best of her knowledge and belief,” Austrian news agency APA reported.

“The hostility, the political agitation, and the insults are unfortunately being unloaded not only on me, but also on my children, and with unbearable force,” she was cited as saying.

“I cannot allow this to continue in order to protect my family. For this reason, I am resigning from office.” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz thanked Aschbacher for her work and said he accepted her decision. On Sunday he named economic researcher Martin Kocher as the new minister.

According to Weber, Aschbacher had taken at least one fifth of her dissertation, titled “Drafting a Leadership Style for Innovative Companies,” from other sources without properly labelling the citations.

Among other things, she had translated an article from Forbes magazine from English, repeating the original author’s claim to say she herself had worked “with hundreds of teams”.