Merkel Favorite to Win Peace Prize for Refugee Leadership

Angela Merkel in Three Minutes: Who Is She?
  • Pope Francis, Denis Mukwege also in contention, bookmakers say
  • Russian daily Novaya Gazeta, Mussie Zerai among frontrunners

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among the favorites to win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for her response to the refugee crisis, according to researchers and bookmakers.

“Angela Merkel has been quite remarkable in taking leadership in a rather embarrassing discussion in the European context and expressing a clear moral voice” that has helped turn the debate around, Kristian Berg Harpviken, director of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, said Thursday.

Other favorites for the prize include Mussie Zerai, the Eritrean priest who helps refugees, Pope Francis, who has made the fight against poverty a focus of his tenure, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and Denis Mukwege, the Congolese gynecologist who treats victims of sexual violence, according to bookmakers. The winner will be announced on Oct. 9 in Oslo by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

The prize, along with honors in literature, physics, medicine and chemistry, was created by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel and first awarded in 1901. Laureates include last year’s winner, Malala Yousafzai, as well as U.S. President Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr. All awards bar the peace prize are handed out in Stockholm. The economics prize was instituted in 1968 by the Swedish central bank in memory of Nobel.

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was today awarded to William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites and Youyou Tu for for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against malaria.

Angela Merkel and Pope Francis, who was also regarded as a frontrunner last year, are favorites for the Peace Prize according to bookmaker Betfair Group Plc with odds of 3-1 and 6-1 respectively.

Historian Asle Sveen, the author of several books about the peace prize, sees Zerai and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees sharing the prize.

“The absolutely hottest thing right now is the large refugee crisis,” Sveen said. “But Angela Merkel is nominated and then the Committee get a famous name and she has impressed.”

While Harpviken also sees Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Timoleon Jimenez, the leader of guerrilla group FARC, as top contenders for their role in the country’s peace process, he doesn’t believe the Pope will be awarded the prize because of the Catholic Church’s views on birth control.

“He speaks to a lot of issues that would resonate with the Nobel committee,” Harpviken said. “But I’m sufficiently skeptical and I haven’t placed him on my list of five.”

For more, read this QuickTake: Angela Merkel

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