No Nobel prize for Merkel

Handelsblatt — Increasingly under pressure at home for her handling of the refugee crisis, Ms. Merkel could probably have used a little good news this week.

And it could have come from Oslo, considering she had been one of the frontrunners to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet, it wasn’t to be.

On Friday morning the Nobel Peace Prize committee announced that the winner of 2015 award was the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, a group representing trade unions, employers, human rights groups and lawyers.

The committee said the group was picked as the prize winner for “its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.”

The Arab Spring began in Tunisia with the ouster of long-time ruler President Ben Ali in January 2011.

“The Quartet was formed in the summer of 2013 when the democratization process was in danger of collapsing as a result of political assassinations and widespread social unrest. It established an alternative, peaceful political process at a time when the country was on the brink of civil war,” as spokeswoman for the Nobel committee said on Friday after the announcement was made.

In recent weeks, the German chancellor had been tipped as a favorite to win the award.

The five members of the committee in Oslo said earlier in the year that it was considering 273 people who had been nominated for the award.

Kristian Berg Harpviken, the director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, a think tank, had said she was his frontrunner for winning the prize.

“In a time when many have dodged responsibility, Merkel has shown true leadership and risen above politics, taking a humane approach in a difficult situation,’’ Mr. Harpviken wrote on his institute’s website last week. “Merkel may perhaps not qualify as an altruistic Mother Theresa, and her stance has toughened in recent weeks, but a collective European response to the current situation and handling of migrants and refugees in the future, is unthinkable without Merkel at the helm.’’

In recent weeks, her open-arms policy toward the thousands of refugees had shortened the odds considerably for gamblers betting on the prize.

Paddy Power, the betting website that operates in Great Britain and Ireland, had seen her move from 66 to 1 odds to 2 to 1.

However, Ladbrokes, another British betting site, had as favorite Dr. Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecological surgeon who has campaigned against rape in war.

Pope Francis and U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden had also been contenders.

Ms. Merkel’s frontrunner status came as she won plaudits around the world for her country’s decision to loosen asylum rules to allow refugees, particularly Syrians, to come to the country.