Rome, February 19 - Oscar Giannino, leader of Italy's small free-market-oriented Stop the Decline party, said Tuesday he would step down if asked to do so by top party management over his false claim of a master's degree from a university in the United States. "If it is true that people will vote for us while holding their nose then I will leave. Tomorrow the party's national directorate will meet to evaluate the matter. I am open to any kind of solution," said Giannino. The scandal broke less than a week before Italians were due to go to the polls for general elections after party figure Luigi Zingales, professor of entrepreneurship and finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, denounced the false claim by Giannino to a master's from the same institution before resigning in protest over the matter. Stop the Decline has been campaigning largely on a meritocracy and transparency platform. On Tuesday Giannino admitted that he had never pursued a master's at the University of Chicago but only an English language course "in 1994-1995, over the summer".
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di Giovanni Pastore