German Chancellor Angela Merkel has emerged among the contenders to win this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Also in the frame are Pope Francis, a Russian newspaper and the parties involved in this year's Iran nuclear deal.
The German mass-circulation newspaper "Bild" on Friday touted Merkel as a possible winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, a day after she was tipped by a leading analyst.
"A Nobel Peace Prize for Angela Merkel?" the newspaper asked in its headline.
"Chancellor Angela has a good chance of winning the Nobel Peace Prize," said the newspaper. "The reason: her actions in the Ukraine crisis and the refugee policies," it added.
The official shortlist remains a mystery, with the Norwegian Nobel Institute keeping the list of nominees a secret, even after the winner has been announced.
Much of the excitement appeared to swirl around comments from the director of Norway's Peace Research Institute, Kristian Berg Harpviken, an independent analyst who is not directly linked to the judging panel.
"Angela Merkel is the one who really took moral leadership and who turned the debate on refugee issues in a European context entirely around," Harpviken told journalists in Oslo on Thursday.
"I think it is that combination of moral leadership and at the same time dealing with really hard dilemmas that makes her deserve the prize," he said.
Refugee issue looms large
The refugee crisis also came out as a key issue for Nobeliana.com, a website run by leading Norwegian Nobel historians. However, Merkel was not in line for the credit this time, with the UN refugee organization UNHCR and Eritrean priest Mussie Zerai - an advocate for Eritrean refugees - tipped as joint contenders for the top spot.
In second place was the Putin-critical Russia's Novaya Gazeta, for its perseverance in independent reporting.
Third in the running, according to Nobeliana's assessment, were Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and his US counterpart John Kerry for their work to negotiate the Iran nuclear deal.
Also featuring on Nobeliana's list were jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, for his work to promote human rights and freedom of speech; the Colombian government and FARC guerillas and Pope Francis, for his speeches on behalf of the poor and to promote social justice.
The German chancellor was also omitted from a list of favorites compiled by the betting website Unibet. That list was topped by Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist who specializes in the treatment of women brutalized by rape in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
rc/kms (AFP, dpa, epd)