Remember when face-coverings were considered dangerous

by Rashmee

Posted on April 1, 2020


Developments in Austria are rich in irony. On March 30, it decided to join several European countries (Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bosnia-Herzegovina) in making it compulsory to wear a face mask outside the home. But in 2017, a legal ban on clothing that covers the face was adopted by the Austrian parliament. That was … Continue reading “Remember when face-coverings were considered dangerous”

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Even in the age of gender fluidity, Sebastian Kurz’s political fluidity is striking

by Rashmee

Posted on September 28, 2019


Austria’s former – and future? – chancellor Sebastian Kurz is a prime example of political flexibility. He doesn’t seem overburdened by ideology (or political principles). Tomorrow (Sunday, Sept. 29), Austrians go to the polls and the results seem a foregone conclusion. Mr Kurz will lead his conservative Austrian People’s party to victory; polls suggest he … Continue reading “Even in the age of gender fluidity, Sebastian Kurz’s political fluidity is striking”

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Africa’s old guard holds back change – and the necessary youthquake

by Rashmee

Posted on February 14, 2018


That African leaders are markedly older than the people they rule is a given. That they’re about 10 years older than European leaders (or US presidents, Donald Trump excluded) is an interesting reflection on the state of politics on the African continent. New Zealand has a young prime minister – Jacinda Ardern is 37 and … Continue reading “Africa’s old guard holds back change – and the necessary youthquake”

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With South Tyrol, Austria’s far-right govt signals wish to unite German-speakers

by Rashmee

Posted on January 5, 2018


After the South Tyrol announcement, everyone’s going to be watching the new Austrian government even more warily. Let me explain. On Monday, December 18, Austria’s new conservative and far-right coalition government offered passports to the German-speaking residents of the northern Italian province of South Tyrol. Rome reacted with outrage and it was, to be fair, … Continue reading “With South Tyrol, Austria’s far-right govt signals wish to unite German-speakers”

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Jacinda Ardern. Sebastian Kurz. Emmanuel Macron. Justin Trudeau…roll call of the young

by Rashmee

Posted on October 19, 2017


With Jacinda Ardern’s ascent (by coalition-deal-making on Thursday) to New Zealand’s highest office, that’s four national leaders under the age of 45. Ms Ardern, 37, is feisty and, it has to be said, extraordinarily lucky. She only became leader of New Zealand’s Labour Party in August. She managed to insert herself into the national (and … Continue reading “Jacinda Ardern. Sebastian Kurz. Emmanuel Macron. Justin Trudeau…roll call of the young”

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From beyond the grave, the ‘Austria First’ Jorg Haider effect

by Rashmee

Posted on October 16, 2017


So what’s new in Austria? In December, it missed electing Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party as president. (The margin of defeat was less than 10 percentage points). In the 1999 general election, the Freedom Party led by the late Jorg Haider, won 27 per cent of the national vote. This was more than … Continue reading “From beyond the grave, the ‘Austria First’ Jorg Haider effect”

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The thin line between free speech and hate speech

by Rashmee

Posted on December 18, 2016 / The Arab Weekly


When does free speech become hate speech? And when does hate speech become dangerous? Touchy questions but do not go looking for answers in the remarkable saga of Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders. Hav­ing made a political career out of intemperate remarks focused on immigrants and Islam, Wilders is set to challenge even the … Continue reading “The thin line between free speech and hate speech”

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Peoples’ anger & the Austrian re-vote. Read correctly, plan accordingly

by Rashmee

Posted on September 16, 2016


The real takeaway from the forthcoming re-run of Austria’s presidential election (now re-re-scheduled from October 2 to December 4)? That advanced democracies must now pay excessive care to voting technology and process. And possibly to the norms of campaigning too? On Bloomberg View, Leonid Bershidksy lays out the urgent case for the installation or upgrading of … Continue reading “Peoples’ anger & the Austrian re-vote. Read correctly, plan accordingly”

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Is western politics becoming all about building a wall against the future?

by Rashmee

Posted on June 1, 2016


Is it true that 21st century western politics is no longer about embracing the future but about walling ourselves off from it? Yes, says Sweden’s former prime minister Carl Bildt, in his diagnosis of the Austrian Narrow Squeak, which is to sat the narrow defeat of the far right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer. No, says … Continue reading “Is western politics becoming all about building a wall against the future?”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK