Simon Ballam

English, studied in NY and worked in London, Düsseldorf, NY, Fankfurt, Prague and Vienna. This covered stints in market research and the film industry, international advertising coordination and strategic planning. Currently business school lecturer and journalist.

All You Need to Know About Wine Ratings

In the wine ratings game, the big names often get the big scores, while smaller growers suspect the system is rigged. Whom can you trust?
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How Corrupt Is Austria?

Austria is no more corrupt than other European countries – although possibly more colorful. But the consequences for wrongdoers are often laughably mild. This may be changing.

How Vienna’s Secessionists Left Their Mark on the Coffeehouse

Between 1890 and 1920, Vienna was a world leader in design. An unlikely mix of imperial decree and cultural revolution drove the Wiener Ästhetik and left its mark on the city even today.

Church and State – No Prayers Please, We’re Austrian

An invitation to a prayer breakfast in the Parlament managed to offend almost everyone, Christians and secularists alike. It also raised the specter of a far darker time.

Grasser Found Guilty in a Tale of Insider Bidding and Bags of Cash

The Austrian Republic's longest corruption trial ended sensationally. If it has ended. Ex Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser and close friends have been found guilty and sentenced to prison.

Is Liberalism Dying? A Look at What Went Wrong After 1989

“The Light that Failed: A Reckoning” by IWM fellow Ivan Krastev and NYU professor Stephen Holmes explains what went wrong with Western liberalism.

Coming Clean on Electric Cars

Electricity spells kosher for many an eco-warrior, with battery-powered cars seen as the answer to vehicle-generated pollution. An analysis by carmaker Volvo suggests it is not so simple.

Election Fever in Vienna

As the city prepares to go to the polls, the streets are plastered with party propaganda posters. Michael Ludwig will almost certainly remain mayor, but his potential partners are pitching for a piece of power.

Torches on the Hill – Ultra-Conservatives March on the Kahlenberg

The Kahlenberg Church stands where an allied army gathered at dawn September 12, 1683 before sweeping down from the hills to break the Turkish siege of Vienna. Today it is both a cause for celebration and a rallying point for dubious arch-conservative fringe groups.

Commerzialbank – A Tale of Criminal Generosity and Incompetent Oversight

A financial pillar of Burgenland had been running on fictional business for years. The inevitable came in August, as the fraudster confessed. Now, auditors and authorities are busy pointing fingers.

Saving the Lake – Will Ecology and Wind Power Destroy a Habit?

The Neusiedlersee is Austria's largest lake, just 45 minutes from the city. It is a paradise for birds and sailors, cyclists and wine growers, as long as there is water in it. That may change.

Musical Chairs for UK-EU Expats – Grab a Seat Before the Music Stops

As the Brexit negotiations drag on, there is still no final clarity on the future of British citizens living in Europe. It is likely to be reciprocal – whatever that means. With Boris, who knows?

One Woman Army | Tanner’s Mission Impossible

Klaudia Tanner is fighting a losing battle to maintain a credible military on a shrinking budget. She has some good ideas, but her communications have met a disastrous defeat.

Asylum Seekers’ Path of Entry Eased. Perhaps.

Justice Minister Alma Zadić has guaranteed independent legal support for asylum seekers. This has allayed well grounded fears of political pressuring. For now.

Grey Wolves Howl in Favoriten

Turkish political violence has spilled over on to the streets of Vienna: The hard right Grey Wolves confront an alliance of Kurdish and left wing protesters in the 10th District.

Feds to the City: “We Only Want to Help.” Right.

The Corona crisis granted a political ceasefire. As the emergency recedes, partisan sniping is back on the agenda, but this time, with C-19 serving as ammunition.

Measuring Corona Happiness | Money Isn’t Everything – But It Helps

Viennese waiters are legendary for their grumpiness, but studies show Austrians to be among the world’s happiest people. Can anyone believe the numbers?

After Ibiza | Older, But None the Wiser

A year ago the infamous video was released: it showed the then Vice-Chancellor H-C Strache promising lucrative state contracts for other favors. What was at first a political embarrassment has now sparked a broader corruption investigation.

(Red) Cross Purposes

The strength of the legendary aid organization is its iron clad neutrality. In the overlapping alliances of Austrian party politics, this is looking badly compromised.

Four in a Jeep – Again

Chancellor Kurz invited the four Allies to mark the victory over Nazi Germany 75 years ago with a video greeting to Austria. They all did, after their own fashion.

Meet Willi Klinger, Wine Seller & Head of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board

After guiding the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (ÖWM) through 15 successful years, Willi Klinger has returned to selling wines from all over at up-market retailer Wein & Co

Thomas Piketty and the Post-Plague World

The growing gulf between rich and poor has unleashed fierce debate since the French economist published “Capital and Ideology” in 2019. The economic meltdown from the Corvid-19 crisis gives the debate a bitter new immediacy.

Emergency Power Binge | Will Kurz Be Able to Kick the Habit?

The Corona crisis justified a package of extraordinary measures that limit basic freedoms. Watchdogs are worried that the government may be reluctant to give up these powers as the pandemic recedes.

The Ukrainian Stand-Off | Inaction Enforced at the Point of a Gun

Vienna based OSCE is charged with monitoring the ongoing conflict between government troops and Russian-backed separatist militias in the Eastern Ukraine: Coronavirus does not make the task easier.

A Murder Re-Shapes Slovak Politics

The assassination of a critical journalist sparked an outcry, which has brought the country a new right of center government. Complicated times ahead, even without Coronavirus.

Rendi Wagner | With Friends Like These

The Austrian Social Democrat SPÖ suffered its worst results ever in last September's general election. As pressures mount, the beleaguered party leader makes a last-ditch attempt to appeal to her base.

Opel | Motor Stalled

The Opel factory on the edge of Vienna has been fading for years. It now looks like the end is in sight for the remaining employees.

OSCE | Talking About Terror

Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister takes his turn chairing the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation in Vienna. But Ankara’s role in the Middle-East and questionable human rights at home may not make his job easier.

Kinodämmerung Bellaria | Twilight of the Movie Houses

Vienna’s temple of movie nostalgia, the legendary Bellaria cinema, has gone dark. Energetic rescue attempts are going on behind the screen, but a happy end is not yet in sight.

Book Review | Boris – Agent of Chaos

A recent contribution published in the magazine "Private Eye" in August 2019, featured a minor American science fiction novel from 1967. The hero: a bumbling incompetent attempting to stave off a dystopian galactic disaster, named Boris Johnson.

Grooner on the Other Side

“Austrian wines, sir? Certainly ...” Store manager Allyson showed me to a shelf of Yellowtail Chardonnays and Sauvignons. No, I reply, no ka...

The Long Winter of Discontent

Philipp Blom sets out to demonstrate how rapid climate change can dramatically upset our social and economic structures, our everyday lives. It has ha...

Round the Flat Lake

Burgenland covers many microclimates and qualities of terroir, resulting in a richness of wines just a short hop from downtown Vienna. A rough w...

Proxy Politics in the FPÖ

Philippa Strache, wife of disgraced ex Vice-Chancellor H-C Strache, has long played a supporting role to her husband's ambitions.  Now she may be about to launch a political career of her own.

Mother of Mayhem

The political chaos in London as the government and the House of Commons struggle to find a solution to Brexit has exposed serious flaws in the o...

Going Through the Motions

“Und nun?” (Now what?) asked Simon Rosner in the Wiener Zeitung after the Ibiza video bombshell: The coalition shattered and the once powerful Kanzler Kurz kicked out of office.  Indeed, what next?

It’s Party Time

Three mainstream parties and two and a half smaller ones are competing to represent Austria in the EU parliament. The left-right divide is there, but ...

Miss-Adventures

Readers of the Republic's better newspapers – those consumed at the coffeehouse or delivered to the door – may have missed this story.  For devotees o...

Still Brown in Braunau

A succession of neo-Nazi associations has put coalition partner FPÖ under political pressure, to the surprising benefit of the governing ÖVP. This ...

Vienna’s New Logo | Cleaning Up the Chaos

Stadt Wien recently spent nearly €600,000 on a new logo design. The opposition denounced it as a scandalous waste of public money, the administration ...

Springtime in Strasbourg

The EU parliamentary elections are in May. In Austria, results may broadly reflect the current national parliament, but right wing nationalist parties...

Mixed Blessings

Vienna is the only European capital with expansive vineyards inside the city limits. Austria's iconic grape may be the Grüner Veltliner but for the ci...

Identitären Politics

The massacre in a New Zealand mosque has detonated an explosive debate in Austria: The gunman had contributed to a Vienna-based nationalist group with...

Whose Country?

A video posted online showed a disturbing encounter: an older woman harangues and spits on a younger, who films the incident. The attacker has been wi...

Trojan Dragon?

Austria is likely to benefit from the New Silk Road, the mammoth Chinese infrastructure project spanning two continents. But strategic thinkers in Was...

Ethical Dispute

A 2000 year old religion long at the heart of the established power structure can sit uneasily in a 100-year-old modern republic – with the balance of...

The Price of Independence

The FPÖ would like nothing better than to hobble the independence of Austria’s public broadcaster, the ORF.  Now Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian ...

Pam’s Jam

She’s a fresh faced, bright-eyed optimist with an easy laugh. She is also confronting a task daunting enough to wipe the smile off the sunniest of dis...

Conchita | Down to Wurst

"No branding, no standing" say the admen, and this is especially true in showbiz. May 2014 Austria was center stage as winner of the European Song ...

Doping Scandal

Say it Ain’t So, Max! Another ski season, another scandal – and yet another case of national heartbreak, as the Nordic Ski World Cup in Seefeld (Fe...

The Return of the Jihadi

When two Viennese girls who had left in 2014 as 14 year-olds to join ISIS in Syria announced they wanted to come home, front page coverage in the Boul...

Sign Language

As travelers we're used to following signs: Left or right, in or out, arrivals, departures and baggage claim. At the Interior Ministry's processing ce...

Deportation Instead of Training

Come if You Can Cook "The law" as Charles Dickens' Mr. Bumble sagely observed "is an ass." Austria's economy is currently desperately short of ski...

Austria’s 2018 Wines | Beating the Heat

The 2018 Austrian wines are defined by last year’s long summer and sweltering temperatures. Like love and moonlight, wine and sunshine go hand in ...

News Monitor

Trouble in Lederhosen All the ingredients for a slow news day story were there: a much-loved local showbiz star, Nazi-accusations and some ...

News Monitor

WRONG SKILLS OR WRONG SKIN? “No one has to live out their days in Rohrbach,” headlined the daily Der Standard (06.02.19). How the...

A Feast for the Senses

The MAK honors Koloman Moser influential and abundant body of work "Koloman Moser Universalkünstler" proclaims the publicity by the Museum of Appli...

The Architecture of Empire

Across the sprawling Habsburg monarchy, castles and courtyards, opera houses and onion domes projected their power and today the heritage of a shared ...

Big Brother, Little Brother | Germany

How well do you know your neighbors? We looked into the Alpine Republic’s special relationship with each of them An Austrian Kabarettist recen...

The Weinviertel, Where Each Wine is as Unique as its Creator

The Weinviertel has as many philosophies as vintners “Popsicles. With lychee aroma!” René Willmann of the Poysdorf Weinmarkt (wine market) scof...

Where the Vienna Energy Forum Sees us in 2030

Here’s the challenge: First, eradicate poverty by getting over 90 percent of the world connected to electricity. Second, save enough energy to keep gl...

Obituary | Fond Memories of the Wafer Maker, Carl Manner

Even the color is iconic: “Pantone rose” is a registered trademark for Austria’s signature snack – Manner Schnitten, the pink block of hazelnut ...