OSLO -- President Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, and the European Union were among known nominees for the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize as the nomination deadline expired yesterday.
The five-member Norwegian awards committee, which keeps the names of candidates secret, accepts nominations postmarked by Feb. 1. Last year there were a record 165 nominations for the prize, which went to Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi.
Even though the committee has kept the nomination list secret over the last 50 years, those making the nominations often announce their candidate.
Norwegian lawmaker Jan Simonsen of the right-wing Party of Progress has nominated Bush and Blair several years in a row, including this year.
Simonsen wrote that by removing Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, they had lessened the chance of a war using weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and had laid the foundation for the development of democracy.
Last year, Norwegian analysts gave Bush and Blair no chance of winning, mainly because a vast majority of Norwegians, including members of the awards committee, were deeply opposed to the war in Iraq.
Former Labor Party leader Thorbjoern Jagland, also a former Norwegian prime minister, nominated the European Union for ensuring peace and security in Europe.
Others believed to be nominated include Pope John Paul II, the Salvation Army, and former Czech president Vaclav Havel.
The committee will announce its decision in mid-October. The Nobel Prizes are awarded Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of their creator, Alfred Nobel.