“The current (Nobel) committee under [Thorbjørn] Jagland as chair has been very clear that it wants to be in tune with the times and even more than that, wants the prize to have an impact on political developments,” says Mr. Harpviken.
A third possible Arab Spring candidate is Wael Ghonim, an Egyptian marketing executive for Google, whose online activism over the brutal police murder of Khalid Said helped set the state for the Egyptian uprising, adds Harpviken.
A woman's year?
However, there are sentiments leaning in favor of a female Arab Spring winner this year, particularly in the wake of the recent death of Wangari Maathai, the last woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, and the high concentration of women on the Nobel Committee, according to Mr. Sveen.
Ms. Maathai, the Kenyan social activist behind the Green Belt Movement, received the prize in 2004. The year earlier, the award went to Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer who founded the Defender of Human Rights Center in Iran. Out of the 97 individuals who have received the prize, 12 have been women. The first was Austrian novelist and pacifist Baroness Bertha von Suttner in 1905.