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Emma Bonino

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Emma Bonino
Bonino in 2019
Member of the Senate of the Republic
In office
23 March 2018 – 12 October 2022
In office
29 April 2008 – 14 March 2013
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
28 April 2013 – 22 February 2014
Prime MinisterEnrico Letta
Preceded byMario Monti (Acting)
Succeeded byFederica Mogherini
Minister of European Affairs and International Trade
In office
17 May 2006 – 7 May 2008
Prime MinisterRomano Prodi
Preceded byGiorgio La Malfa
(European Affairs)
Succeeded byAndrea Ronchi
(European Affairs)
Claudio Scajola
European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection
In office
25 January 1995 – 16 September 1999
PresidentJacques Santer
Manuel Marín
Preceded byChristiane Scrivener
Succeeded byDavid Byrne
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
5 July 1976 – 20 December 1978
In office
13 June 1979 – 10 July 1983
In office
5 December 1986 – 2 July 1987
In office
10 July 1990 – 25 January 1995
ConstituencyNaples (1990–1992)
Rome (1992–1994)
Padua (1994–1995)
In office
21 April 2006 – 28 April 2008
Member of the European Parliament
In office
17 July 1979 – 12 April 1988
ConstituencyNorth-West Italy
In office
20 July 1999 – 27 April 2006
ConstituencyNorth-West Italy (1999–2004)
North-East Italy (2004–2006)
Personal details
Born (1948-03-09) 9 March 1948 (age 76)
Bra, Italy
Political partyItalian Radicals (since 2001)
More Europe (since 2017)
Other political
Radical Party (1975–2017)
Pannella List (1989–1996)
Bonino List (1999–2004)
Alma materBocconi University

Emma Bonino OMRI, CdrLH (born 9 March 1948)[1] is an Italian politician. She was a senator for Rome between 2008 and 2013, and again between 2018 and 2022. She also served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2013 to 2014. Previously, she was a Member of the European Parliament and a member of the Chamber of Deputies. She served in the government of Italy as Minister of International Trade from 2006 to 2008.

Bonino is a leading member of the Italian Radicals, a political party which describes itself "liberale, liberista, and libertario", where liberista denotes economic liberalism and libertario a form of cultural liberalism concerning moral issues, with some ideological connection with historical left-libertarianism. She graduated in modern languages and literature from Bocconi University in Milan in 1972. A veteran legislator in Italian politics and an activist for various reform policies, she was elected six times as deputy and two times as senator. She is the leader of More Europe, a liberal, European federalist party list she launched in December 2017, ahead of the 2018 Italian general election.

Personal life[edit]

Bonino never married nor bore children, even succumbing to the Italian authorities in 1975 after having an illegal abortion. She fostered children.[2]

She graduated at Bocconi University in literature with a master thesis on Malcolm X's autobiography.[3]

Bonino is a godmother of Countess Luana, elder daughter of Prince Friso and Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau.

On 12 January 2015, she announced on Radio Radicale she was suffering from lung cancer and was being treated with chemotherapy, though she also stated she was not abandoning her political activity.[4] On 21 May of the same year, on the same radio station, she announced her cancer was in complete remission.[5]

National political career[edit]

Bonino was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies in 1976 and reelected in 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1994 and 2006. In 1975, she founded the Information Centre on Sterilisation and Abortion and promoted the referendum which led to the legalisation of abortion in Italy. In 1986, she was among the promoters of a referendum against nuclear energy that led to the rejection of a civil nuclear energy programme in Italy.

On 17 May 2006, Bonino was appointed as minister for international trade in the cabinet of Romano Prodi.[6] She resigned from office on 7 May 2008 when she had been elected vice president of the Senate the previous day. In 2008, at the elections of 13 and 14 April, she was elected to a seat in the Senate, the second parliamentary chamber, on the list of the Democratic Party for the Piedmont constituency.

On 28 April 2013, she was sworn in as foreign minister in the government led by Enrico Letta.

In June 2017, public opinion polls of her stood at 43 percent, second only to prime minister Paolo Gentiloni.[7] Despite the positive public opinion, her party falls short of the 3 percent required for a seat in Parliament. In response, she has adopted the slogan "Love Me Less, Vote Me More."[8][9]

Bonino was elected to the Senate of the Republic in the constituency of Rome – Gianicolense district at the 2018 general election.[10]

International political career[edit]

Bonino was elected to the European Parliament in 1979 and re-elected in 1984 and 1999. She served as the Secretary of the Transnational Radical Party in 1993–94 and the party's president in 1991–1993. In October 1994, she was appointed head of the Italian Government delegation to the UN General Assembly for the "Moratorium on death penalty" initiative. From 1994 to 1999, she was European Commissioner responsible for Consumer Policy, Fisheries and the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO). In 1997, her field of competence was widened to include consumer health protection and food safety.

From 14 to 17 May, 1998, she participated in the annual meeting of the Bilderberg Group at Turnberry, Scotland.[11]

On 15 March 1999, together with all the Santer Commission, she resigned due to the accusations of fraud and mismanagement against commissioner Édith Cresson. The final report however leveled charges against most commissioners, including Bonino herself. In November 2002, she was appointed Head of the Italian Government delegation at the Inter-governmental Conference of the Community of Democracies in Seoul.

Along with Marco Pannella, another member of the Radical Party, Bonino has fought numerous battles for civil rights and individual liberty, mainly concerned with divorce, the legalisation of abortion, the legalisation of drugs, and for sexual and religious freedoms. She has fought for an end to capital punishment, against female genital mutilation, and the eradication of world hunger. In 1975, Bonino funded the information centre for abortion (CISA), and in 1997 she supported the international movement condemning the discrimination of females in Afghanistan, Un Fiore per le Donne di Kabul (A Flower for the Women of Kabul). Bonino is also a champion of the recognition of women's rights in the countries of the African Union through the Maputo protocol. She is a founder of the nongovernmental organizations No Peace Without Justice, which supports the international protection and promotion of human rights and democracy, and Nessuno Tocchi Caino (Let None Strike Cain), which is an international league that fights for the abolition of the death penalty.[12]

Bonino with the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, before their meeting in Rome

In June 1999, she obtained a historic percentage of votes (8.5%) in the European elections (vs. the usual 2–3% that Radicals got in the previous and subsequent elections). Her list (Lista Bonino) won seven of 78 Italian seats in this election.

Bonino supported the NATO intervention in Kosovo in the spring of 1999. From 1999 to 2004, the Lista Bonino was non-affiliated, as it was founded with a claim to not adhere to the traditional centre-left versus centre-right politics, rather remaining in the middle to maximize any potential bargaining power.[13] In the case Emma Bonino and Others v Parliament and Council (Case T-40/04), the Emma Bonino List contested before the Court of Justice of the European Union that its exclusion from Community funding due to not qualifying as a party on the 'European level' was discriminatory. The court dismissed this argument as inadmissible, establishing that measures do not necessarily need to legally affect an applicant in order for the case to directly affect them.[14] Since 2004, it is part of the ALDE group.

In 2002, Bonino in cooperation with the Associazione Italiana Donne per lo Sviluppo (AIDOS, Italian Association for the Development of Women), called an Italian Parliament meeting to discuss genital mutilation. Bonino led the ceremonies, which gathered medical experts, ambassadors, and politicians to review graphic information about the practice of female genital mutilation in African countries. During this meeting, Bonino recounted her travels through Somalia, Egypt, Tanzania, The Gambia, and Ethiopia, where she learned about these rural practices by meeting women who participated in projects to stop them. Many African women who suffered from genital mutilation discussed there firsthand experiences. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Prime Minister Berlusconi congratulated Bonino on her accomplishments in this cause and presented the leader of AIDOS with a check for the European Campaign.[15]

In December 2001, she moved to Cairo with the objective of learning the Arabic language and culture. In March 2003, she started a daily review of the Arabic press on Radical Radio. In January 2004, she organized the "Regional Conference on Democracy, Human Rights and the role of the International Penal Court", the first for an Arabic country. She is currently a board member of the Arab Democracy Foundation.

Bonino was a board member of DARA until December 2012. In 2016, she was appointed by Erik Solheim, the Chairman of the Development Assistance Committee, to serve on the High Level Panel on the Future of the Development Assistance Committee under the leadership of Mary Robinson.[16]

Bonino writes opinion editorials and commentaries for both the Inter Press Service News Agency and Project Syndicate, discussing contemporary international issues including Syrian refugees affecting Europe, abolishing the death penalty, relations between Iran and Europe, and the poor treatment of the indigenous people of South East Asia.[17][18][19][20]

Philanthropy and charitable causes[edit]

Bonino is a member of the eminent international Council of Patrons of the Asian University for Women (AUW) in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The University, which is the product of foundational partnerships (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Open Society Foundation, IKEA Foundation, etc) and regional cooperation, serves extraordinarily talented women from 15 countries across Asia and the Middle East.[21][22]

During an interview published by the Italian daily Corriere della Sera on 8 February 2016, Pope Francis defined Bonino as one of the nation's "forgotten greats", comparing her to great historical figures such as Konrad Adenauer and Robert Schuman.[23]


Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic – awarded on 21 December 2015[24]

In 1999 Bonino was one of the two winners of the North-South Prize,[25] an award that honors individuals with accomplishment in the protection of human rights, pluralistic democracy, and improvement of North-South relations.

For her battles and engagements with controversial issues, her engagement in the promotion of human rights and civil rights in the world, she received the "Open Society Prize 2004" and "Prix Femmes d'Europe 2004" for Italy.[citation needed]

She received the America Award of the Italy-USA Foundation in 2013,[citation needed] and she was also recognized as one of the BBC's 100 women in this same year.[26]

Electoral history[edit]

Election House Constituency Party Votes Result
1976 Chamber of Deputies Rome–Viterbo–Latina–Frosinone PR 12,855 checkY Elected
1979 Chamber of Deputies Rome–Viterbo–Latina–Frosinone PR 33,595 checkY Elected
1979 European Parliament North-West Italy PR 51,445 checkY Elected
1983 Chamber of Deputies Naples–Caserta PR 7,797 ☒N Not Elected
1984 European Parliament North-West Italy PR 28,319 checkY Elected
1987 Chamber of Deputies Naples–Caserta PR 6,515 ☒N Not Elected
1992 Chamber of Deputies Rome–Viterbo–Latina–Frosinone LP 3,470 checkY Elected
1994 Chamber of Deputies Padua LP 36,881 checkY Elected
1999 European Parliament North-West Italy LB 421,770 checkY Elected
2004 European Parliament North-East Italy LB 50,281 checkY Elected
2006 Chamber of Deputies Veneto 2 RnP [a] checkY Elected
2008 Senate of the Republic Piedmont RI[b] [a] checkY Elected
2018 Senate of the Republic Rome +E 112,425 checkY Elected
  1. ^ a b Elected in a closed list proportional representation system.
  2. ^ Elected in the Democratic Party list.

First-past-the-post elections[edit]

1994 general election (C): VenetoPadua
Candidate Coalition or Party Votes %
Emma Bonino Pole of Freedoms (LP) 36,881 39.5
Guido Petter Alliance of Progressives (PDS) 25,706 27.5
Elisabetta Gardini Pact for Italy 19,265 20.6
Franco Perlasca National Alliance 11,511 12.3
Total 93,363 100.0
2018 general election (S): Rome — Gianicolense
Candidate Coalition or Party Votes %
Emma Bonino Centre-left coalition (+E) 112,425 38.9
Federico Iadicicco Centre-right coalition (FdI) 92,808 32.1
Claudio Consolo Five Star Movement 54,380 18.8
Laura Lauri Free and Equal 15,661 5.4
Others 13,819 4.8
Total 289,093 100.0


  1. ^ Gino Moliterno, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Italian Culture (PDF). London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-203-74849-2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 January 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  2. ^ Ahrens, K. (9 October 2009). Politics, Gender and Conceptual Metaphors. Springer. ISBN 9780230245235.
  3. ^ Giorgio Dell'Arti, Biografia di Emma Bonino, su cinquantamila.corriere.it, Cinquantamila.it, 13 gennaio 2015. URL consultato il 25 maggio 2018 (archiviato il 25 febbraio 2018).
  4. ^ "Emma Bonino: "Ho un tumore al polmone" | Radio Radicale TV". 13 January 2015. Archived from the original on 13 January 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  5. ^ "La Bonino sta meglio: "Scomparsa ogni evidenza di cancro"". Corriere della Sera. 21 May 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Governo: a Bonino ministro nuovo e con portafoglio" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 26 May 2020. Retrieved 18 May 2006.
  7. ^ "67. La leadership a destra, sinistra e nel M5S - Atlante politico - Demos & Pi". www.demos.it. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  8. ^ Povoledo, Elisabetta (9 February 2018). "She Won Italians' Hearts. But Can She Win Their Votes?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  9. ^ Merelli, Annalisa. "There are two rays of hope for progressives in Italy's election". Quartz. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Dipartimento per gli Affari Interni e Territoriali". elezionistorico.interno.gov.it. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  11. ^ "Partecipazione della Commissaria Emma Bonino all'incontro "Bilderberg" 1998". Europea Parliament.
  12. ^ Giordano, Simona; Coggon, John; Cappato, Marco (7 August 2012). Scientific Freedom. Vol. 33. A&C Black. pp. 311–2. doi:10.1136/jme.2007.020560. ISBN 9781849668996. PMC 2598286. PMID 17526678. {{cite book}}: |journal= ignored (help)
  13. ^ Gilbert, Mark; Pasquino, Gianfranco (2000). Italian Politics: The Faltering Transition. Berghahn Books. ISBN 9781571818409.
  14. ^ Morano-Foadi, Sonia; Neller, Jen (31 August 2018). Fairhurst's Law of the European Union. Pearson UK. ISBN 9781292218670.
  15. ^ Harcourt, Wendy (4 April 2013). Body Politics in Development: Critical Debates in Gender and Development. Zed Books Ltd. ISBN 9781848136182.
  16. ^ High Level Panel on the Future of the Development Assistance Committee Development Assistance Committee.
  17. ^ Bonino, Emma (8 December 2015). "Europe's Refugee Opportunity | by Emma Bonino". Project Syndicate. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  18. ^ Bonino, Emma (9 December 2007). "Killing the Death Penalty | by Emma Bonino". Project Syndicate. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  19. ^ "OPINION: Will There be Peace Between Iran and the West? | Inter Press Service". www.ipsnews.net. 17 November 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  20. ^ "A WORRYING SITUATION FOR THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF SOUTH EAST ASIA. | Inter Press Service". www.ipsnews.net. July 2004. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  21. ^ "Akie Abe, Japan's First Lady, Joins AUW as Patron". dnaindia.com. 19 February 2013.
  22. ^ "CBK joins Advisory Leadership of Regional University Empowering Women". island.lk. 11 March 2017. Archived from the original on 28 July 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  23. ^ "I tre "grandi italiani" nel Pantheon di Papa Francesco" [The three "great Italian" in the patheon of Pope Francis] (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. 8 February 2016. Archived from the original on 3 January 2020. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  24. ^ "Le onorificenze della Repubblica Italiana". www.quirinale.it. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  25. ^ "The North South Prize of Lisbon". North-South Centre. Council of Europe. Archived from the original on 1 June 2008. Retrieved 21 January 2008.
  26. ^ "100 Women: Who took part?". BBC News. 20 October 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2022.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by European Commissioner from Italy
Served alongside: Mario Monti
Succeeded by
Preceded by Succeeded by
Preceded by European Commissioner for Health and
Consumer Protection

Succeeded by
Preceded byas Minister of European Affairs Minister of European Affairs and International Trade
Succeeded byas Minister of European Affairs
Succeeded byas Minister of Economic Development
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by