By Hilary White

ROME, March 22, 2010 ( – Emma Bonino’s power and influence will increase dramatically both nationally and internationally if she wins the upcoming election to the presidency of the Lazio region in Italy, which includes the city of Rome, said Fabio Bernabei, president of Centro Culturale Lepanto (CCL), in an interview with on Saturday.

Despite her description by the European press as “centre left,” Bonino, as the Radical Party candidate, “is the most radical politician in Italy,” Bernabei claimed.

CCL is a Christian lobby group currently campaigning hard to derail the Bonino candidacy. A Bonino win, they said, would present a direct threat to freedom of religion in Italy in general and Rome in particular.

Bonino, Bernabei said, is “pro-abortion, pro-free drugs, pro-same-sex unions. She has an officially anti-clerical policy, so it would be very dangerous if she would be elected as president of Lazio.” He cited support for her by the “fanatic” anti-clericalist group, who issued a statement last year calling for the suppression of the Catholic Church in Italy.

The Lazio (or Latium) region is the area of central Italy that includes Rome, the home of the Vatican as well as the nation’s centre of finance and of the national government. As head of the Lazio region, Bonino could have immense influence throughout Italy as well as on the international stage.

In a move that has been described as “unusual,” the Vicariate (diocese) of Rome has called for Catholic voters to reject the Bonino candidacy, despite wide support for her among clergy for her putative defence of “human rights.”

CCL said that it is opposition to Bonino, and not partisan politics, that prompted the group to join a large demonstration organised by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Il Popolo della Libertà (The People of Liberty, PDL), this Saturday. The rally was attended by tens of thousands of Romans and others from around the Lazio region to support the PDL candidate Renata Polverini.

“Imagine that in Lazio there is Rome,” Bernabei said, “and in Rome there is the Holy See. Imagine that the regional government will promote an action against the Church, promote the suppression of the clergy. So we are here for freedom of religion.

“That’s the reason Lepanto (CCL) is here, because we are defending our freedom as Catholics. The liberty of the apostolate.”

Bernabei pointed to the devolution of authority over policing and drug policies from the national government to the regions. Bonino’s goals, he said, can be more easily realized as head of the Lazio region than they could as a deputy of the Italian parliament.

“In Italy, the regions nowadays have a lot of power,” Bernabei said. “In certain areas, it’s a much more powerful position even than the national government. A lot of matters depend upon the lower levels of government, except where they contrast directly with the central government.” These include “international relationships” he said.

Bernabei noted Bonino’s history as an international mover and shaker, and her close alliance with billionaire population control activist George Soros in the founding of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Bonino was influential in the adoption of the Rome Statute in 1998 that established the ICC.

With Bonino’s many contacts at the European Union in Brussels and at the UN, as well as her financial backing from Soros, Bernabei said it “would be devastating” if she were to be elected.

Bonino served as a cabinet minister in the Italian government from 2006 to 2008, as Minister for International Trade and European Affairs. She was twice appointed by the European Commission to be Chief Observer of the European Union’s Election Observation Missions, in Ecuador in 2002 and in Afghanistan in 2005. She also twice led the Italian delegation to the Inter-governmental Conference of the Community of Democracies in Seoul, South Korea in 2002 and in Santiago, Chile in 2005.

Due to a last-minute administrative bungle by party officials, however, Berlusconi’s PDL may not be registered for the March 28-29 ballot, and may not have a chance to stand in the Lazio region. As Berlusconi was appearing at the rally in Rome, Italy’s top administrative court rejected the latest appeal by the party to be reinstated. Corriere della Sera reported last week that as many as 17 per cent of Lazio voters had decided not to vote or to change their vote as a result of the pre-election chaos.

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