Paris, France, 27 November 2008 (By John C. Freed, International Herald Tribune) - 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
In the six countries surveyed, the results differed sharply depending on whether the respondents were in
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
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
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
The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of
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
"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
Others ranked near the bottom were Putin, Assad, Fidel Castro of
Patrick Van Bloeme, chief executive for