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Mercury Opinion: Britain needs Obama to be successful

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When Barack Obama was first elected as US President four years ago, expectations were ridiculously high. With his re-election, the tone is more realistic. The US is still struggling to recover from the worst economic slump since the Great Depression. The country's parliament, Congress, is bitterly divided and has been mired in legislative gridlock.

And the US and Iran are effectively in a state of cold war, with the frightening potential for the crisis to turn into military conflict.

Given the circumstances, President Obama's re-election owes a great deal to his personal charisma and resilience, and his victory speech amply demonstrated just what an inspiring figure he continues to be.

His success over his Republican rival Mitt Romney will, of course, be immensely popular in this country, and the rest of Europe, where he is greatly admired, and where the Republicans are reviled.

Domestically, however, things will not be as rosy.

The US election showed that the country is bitterly divided and this is manifested in Congress, where President Obama faces an immediate and pressing economic challenge.

Known as the "fiscal cliff", this a combination of spending cuts and tax rises which could plunge the weak economy back into recession, with potentially devastating effects elsewhere, including Britain.

President Obama must negotiate a solution to prevent disaster.

Beyond that, there is the lethal issue of Iran's nuclear programme.

The President must ensure that Iran does not gain a nuclear weapon and do so without resorting to military force. He must also try to head off the possibility of war between Israel and Iran.

Failure on any of these counts will plunge the Middle East into a fresh crisis and increase instability across the world.

These challenges are important to Britain's immediate future. Our fortunes are inextricably tied to the success, or otherwise, of President Obama over the next four years.

Our view continues to be that he is the best man for the job and we welcome his victory.

However, we are under no illusions about the scale of the task ahead.


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