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World can see stern test ahead for coalition

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso spoke last night of his hopes for "constructive co-operation" with the new Taoiseach.

Mr Barroso and Enda Kenny will meet later this week in Helsinki when the Fine Gael leader will be welcomed into the family of Europe's centre-right political leaders.

They will meet again within days at a summit of all EU leaders which will be discussing the terms of a new bailout mechanism to apply to any future ailing economies in Europe after the temporary system expires in 2013.

Last night, Mr Barroso contacted Mr Kenny by phone to congratulate him on a "strong performance" in the election.

Other leaders to talk to Mr Kenny included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who invited Mr Kenny to Downing Street, European Council president Herman Van Rompuy and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

A commission official said Mr Barroso had also expressed "full confidence" in Mr Kenny and said he looked forward to "a very close and constructive co-operation" with him.

"The commission will continue to support Ireland and its next government in carrying out the programme," spokes-man Amadeu Altafaj said.

In recent weeks the Fine Gael leader has made contact with Mr Barroso and Ms Merkel.

While Mr Kenny seems keen to begin talks on the bailout, the European Commission remained equally keen to insist the new government must stick to the promises made by Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan.

The challenge of renegotiating the interest rate charged on Ireland's bailout was the focus of many foreign news organisations' reports.

Few expressed the belief that a new deal was possible. The 'International Herald Tribune' said living up to pledges about a renegotiation could be difficult.

Outside observers were also sceptical that the election would lead to any great changes here.

"Close examination of the change in power makes it look like a baton has been handed over. Conservatives go, conservatives come. That's how Irish political history has always been," was how the conservative 'Welt am Sonntag' newspaper in Berlin explained events.

Bloomberg, the US news wire, saw Fianna Fail's wipeout as part of a bigger picture.

"In Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party enjoyed a half a century of almost unbroken rule before losing power to the Democratic Party of Japan in 2009. In Canada, the Progressive Conservatives was almost wiped out in 1993 when it lost all but two of its 151 seats," it noted.

Foreign newspapers were unanimous in their verdict that the next government faces a severe test.


"The victors have inherited a record household deficit of 32pc, a giant heap of debts of more than €160bn, and an unemployment rate of 13.4pc," the Swiss-based 'Neue Zurcher Zeitung' observed in an article which noted that the Irish public had been forced to become macro-economic experts over the past few years.

The 'Financial Times' warned Fine Gael and Labour's policies might trigger a second property crash as the new government seeks to abolish upward-only rent reviews for existing contracts -- something that will almost certainly reduce the value of property here.

Among the first to welcome Mr Kenny's election was Wilfried Martens, president of the European People's Party (EPP), a pan-European movement that represents many centre-right parties in the European Parliament, including Fine Gael.

Mr Kenny will attend an EPP meeting in Helsinki of 17 centre-right heads of state next Friday to prepare for a formal summit of the 17 eurozone leaders next month in Brussels.

Irish Independent