A poll carried out for the German news magazine Der Spiegel showed that 44% of those questioned regarded the Tibetan spiritual and secular leader as a role model, highlighting the Nobel Prize winner’s enduring popularity in Europe and the public interest in the Tibet issue.

The polling figures of the Dalai Lama even outshone the Bavarian-born Pope, who received a 42% approval. The Dalai Lama enjoyed a particularly high popularity rating among the young and better educated, according to the survey by the TNS research organization.

In October 2005, the Dalai Lama was voted into third place as the person most people would like to run the world in an international poll conducted by the BBC. Former South African President Nelson Mandela was voted into first place.

The Spiegel survey was released as the Dalai Lama was due to arrive in Germany for a 10-day visit to Hamburg starting on July 19. During his visit, the Dalai Lama will deliver a series of lectures and philosophical talks and attend an international congress of Buddhist monks and nuns.