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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Dalai Lama gets top rating in survey on world leaders

November 30, 2008

By John C. Freed
The International Herald Tribune
November 27, 2008

PARIS -- The Dalai Lama is the most respected world leader among
Western Europeans and Americans, a poll being made public Friday
shows, while Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany does the best job of
combining respect with worldwide influence.

Those were among the first findings of a new survey, "World Leaders,"
to be conducted every two months by Harris Interactive for the
International Herald Tribune and the all-news channel France 24.

In the six countries surveyed, the results differed sharply depending
on whether the respondents were in Britain and the United States, on
the one hand, or in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, on the other.

For example, the percentage who hold a "very good" or "somewhat good"
opinion of Merkel ranged from 59 percent to 73 percent in Continental
Europe, while it was around 30 percent in the United States and
Britain. On the question of influence, the percentage in Continental
Europe rating Merkel as having "some" or "a great deal" ranged from
66 percent to 77 percent, while just one in three Britons and
Americans said the same.

There was no disagreement on which leader is the most powerful:
President George W. Bush. Nor was there much of a divide on his
respect: he was consistently ranked near the bottom. The same was
true of Vladimir Putin, the prime minister of Russia.

Two of the other leaders ranked at the top of the power list,
however, were also among the most respected: Merkel and President
Nicolas Sarkozy of France, though both got higher rankings on the
Continent that elsewhere.

The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, was ranked the
most respected leader, generally by a wide margin in every country,
though in the United States he was edged out by former Prime Minister
Tony Blair of Britain. Blair's ranking was dragged down worldwide,
however, by low marks in his home country and in Spain.

The other world leader ranked near the top in popularity was Pope
Benedict XVI. That two religious leaders are ranked in the top five
surprised Brent Scowcroft, the former U.S. national security adviser,
who was asked about the results on the France 24 program "The Talk of Paris."

"What it says is that the world is yearning for an, if not religious,
at least a humanistic approach that puts religion - or if you will,
care and concern for one's fellow man - at the top of the agenda,"
Scowcroft said.

Respondents were asked to give their overall opinion of 19 world
leaders, ranging from Ban Ki Moon, the secretary general of the
United Nations, to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, as well as
their view of each leader's global influence. And while Bush's
ranking on the respect scale was low, it was not at the bottom: that
spot belongs to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.

Others ranked near the bottom were Putin, Assad, Fidel Castro of
Cuba, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Dmitri Medvedev of Russia and Hu
Jintao of China.

Patrick Van Bloeme, chief executive for France at Harris Interactive,
said the new survey would allow tracking of the various leaders over
time, a longstanding practice among pollsters reviewing the
popularity of the national leaders in their respective countries. The
new survey is the first reviewing popularity of leaders in different
countries in parallel, he said.
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