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Genetic testing of far-right Hungarian politician provokes an uproar

If you think running for office in the United States is rigorous, then you haven't met Hungary's far-right Jobbik party. After the April 2010 legislative elections that handed the extremist group 47 seats in the national assembly -- and before local elections that fall -- an unnamed Jobbik MP made a special effort to gain the upper hand by undergoing genetic testing "to ensure he did not have a Roma or Jewish ethnic background." The lab results were published by a Hungarian far-right website in May. According to the report from medical diagnostic company Nagy Gen, the MP, whose name was blacked out, has "No genetic trace of Jewish or Roma ancestors."

The company, which faces a criminal investigation for violating the country's Law on Genetics, "examined 18 positions in the MP's genome" for supposedly Jewish and Roma variants, but Joerg Schmidtke, president of the European Society of Human Genetics, criticized the company:

"This is a gross distortion of the values of genetic testing.... In addition, the test proves nothing; it is impossible to deduce someone's origins from testing so few places of the genome."

Jobbik is the third-largest party in Hungary's parliament, and is known for its anti-Semitic and anti-Roma platform. European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor found the racial purity test a cause for immediate concern:

"This test demonstrates a very troubling escalation by the Jobbik party ... into a genetic and racial ideology that appears to be a short step below a fully-fledged Nazi worldview."

The icing on the cake, though, is the fact that three-time Olympic water polo champion Tibor Benedek, a member of a prominent Jewish family, held a minority financial stake in the Nagy Gen, but he pulled out immediately after the report was published.

It's good to know that racial purity is making a comeback, but if the testing was truly unprofessional, it's entirely possible we may have another Vladimir Zhinirovsky on our hands.

FERENC ISZA/AFP/Getty Images

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