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.

The Caucasian Circle of Violence

The assassination of a Chechen government critic in Vienna has unleashed a wave of political indignation. Once more. Will anything happen? Probably not.

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 wood...

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 once-a...

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?

Much Ado About Something

The FPÖ has named an openly Teutonic-nationalist for a cultural advisory board. Critics protested – and the language in both directions was inflammato...

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 Strac...

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

European Elections AheadWhen an entire continent goes to the polls, we should pay attention to what people have to say. From May...

News Monitor

Trouble in LederhosenAll 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...

Vienna’s Sparkling Wine | The Best Bars for Bubbly

Other winemakers may follow the méthode champenoise,  but the aristocrats of bubbly still define the market.  Procedures can be copied; the magic is m...

Special Report | A Banana Republic, if you can keep it

The OSCE in Vienna monitors elections around the world. Its report on the US midterms found the elections to be just as fair as those in the ex-Soviet...

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 ...

A Golden Age for Gentle Radicals | Josef Hoffmann & Koloman Moser

The cruelest punishment imaginable,” said the Viennese modernist architect Adolf Loos, “would be to be locked up in a prison cell decorated by Josef H...

Women Can Be Blind, Too | The Vienna Subway’s Sticky Story

Riding Vienna’s public transport is always an adventure. This expat of over 20 years finds a hidden political agenda in the passenger information stic...

Austrian Red Wines Are Finally Coming of Age

Austrian reds have struggled to catch up with their magnificent white cousins, but the best are now coming of age.Historically, Austria has al...

Brexit | A Lose-Lose in the Year to Come

Britain’s stumbling progress toward leaving the European Union is a case study in political mismanagement. With a year to go, it will most likely be a...

Pub Klemo has a Well-Stocked Selection and Affordable Tastings

If Rome has coffee and Moscow has vodka, then Vienna’s soul fuel is surely wine.The city is awash in the stuff: dozens of Vinotheken and wine ba...

Big Brother, Little Brother | Germany

How well do you know your neighbors? We looked into the Alpine Republic’s special relationship with each of themAn Austrian Kabarett...

Visiting Adele Bloch-Bauer at the Neue Galerie in NYC

The Old World has no claim to great European art. A magnificent gallery showcases Vienna’s treasures in the Big AppleEuropeans like to believe t...

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 ...

On The Vine | More Wine? Don’t Schwitz, it’s Totally Kosher

After eons, kosher wine finally maturesWine in the Levante may date back to pre-biblical times, but until recently, Israel was not producing muc...

Special Report | Michael Häupl’s Fall From Grace

Vienna’s eternal mayor Michael Häupl is under mounting pressure to step down. And the squeeze is coming from within his own partyThe basic chron...

Dining on Dragon’s Head | The Secrets of Fischrestaurant Kaj

The “golden” cook of Fischrestaurant Kaj transforms the fresh catch from the Adriatic.“Sometimes life just writes its own script,” Miro Sapič to...

Design for Chaos | Otto Wagner’s Steinhof

Steinhof is a Wiener Melange of health and history and now the city adds housing to the mix.For centuries, to be considered mad was a life sente...

Tastes Like Victory – Gasthaus zum Sieg

For savory Gulasch, Gasthaus zum Sieg is the real dealGasthaus zum Sieg is a real-life Beisl (bistro), not an “Original Vienna Kitchen” (in six ...

On the Vine | Winter Work

Cellar, field and desk; March is a busy  time of year for winemakersThe cliché of cute country girls and boys, skirts and sleeves rolled up as...

Opinion | Austrian Idol?

Amid the erosion of the political center, little Austria may be the unlikely champion to stem the surge of the far rightIf there is anything wor...

Film Stills: Magical Moments

Film stills as drama suspended, art as advertisement: Even if you’ve never seen the movie, chances are you know the imageThey are the indelible ...

Eyewitness: Kurz Takes Over the OSCE

As chairmanship revolves to Austria, we listened to what Foreign Minister Kurz sees as the biggest challengesI arrived unreasonably early on a c...

A Spymaster’s Vienna – On the Trail of The Third Man

Graham Greene’s The Third Man: An iconic portrait of gloom and corruption in Austria’s postwar capitalGreat cities have their architectural icon...

On the Vine | Dollhouse Vintage – Urban Vineyard

Vienna’s smallest working vineyard is in the heart of the cityWe all know the PR photo stunts: a portly man in a serious business suit performin...

Bacchus Meets Disney

For better or worse, the Langenlois Loisium is a theme park for the thirstyAfter driving up the hill through a seemingly endless colony of chic de...

The Day After: Outs Win

This is a sad morning for Britain and unfathomable for Europe. The morning after Brexit, the headlines make grim reading: “Pound sterling crashes to 1...

Op-Ed: Man Without a Country

Breaking its election promises, a Tory government has left expat Britons out in the coldDisenfranchisement is an ugly word. As a UK citizen with...

Op-Ed: The SPÖ’s Family Feud

Austria’s refugee crisis has not only polarized the political landscape,  it has split the country’s ruling party right down the middle As every seas...

International: OSCE Vienna – Soft Power At Work

Born in the chilliest era of the Cold War, Vienna's OSCE fosters common-sense cooperation between people of good will“What we do is soft power,”...

Be My Guest: Chef Fuad Vojic – Giorgina

One of Vienna’s few accredited slow food chefs has a special recipe for the Lenten fast: Viennese snails with artichoke ravioliFuad Vojic has cr...