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France needs this stability

Last night, following the first round of the French parliamentary elections, it appeared certain that after next Sunday's run-offs President Francois Hollande will have a firm majority in the National Assembly.

This, combined with his own comfortable victory in the presidential election, will give his country some much-needed stability. This need is not confined to France.

Every country in the European Union could do with some reassurance that the political and financial world contains more than never-ending crisis. But it would be far-fetched to regard Mr Hollande as some kind of socialist saviour.

Most attention will centre on his prospects of persuading Chancellor Angela Merkel to agree to a programme for growth in return for supporting the European fiscal pact.

There is every reason to hope for the enhanced Franco-German co-operation without which Europe's ills cannot be cured.

But Mr Hollande also has huge tasks to tackle at home.

His government has to bring in a budget next month. Will it include spending freezes? It will take courage to impose them on cosseted French voters.

During his election campaign, he called for heavy taxes on the rich. Will he go ahead with this proposal and risk a flight of capital from the country?

He may have to call to mind a saying well known in Ireland, that election promises don't count.