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For America’s re-elected president, the traditional inaugural ball was a brief moment of celebration before the tough work resumes.

As in 2009, the song the presidential couple chose to dance to was “Let’s Stay Together”.

As four years ago, Obama used the occasion to appeal for unity. But with the election behind him, there are signs of a renewed confidence to take on the Republicans.

In a speech before hundreds of thousands of supporters, the president highlighted immigration reform, gay rights, gun violence and climate change – all issues that are guaranteed to bring fierce clashes in Congress and beyond.

He confirmed that improving the plight of America’s poor will be a second-term priority.

“For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class,” he said.

The Republican opposition has shown signs of wanting to work together. But it is unlikely to lie down in the battles to come on tax and spending.

Obama’s first term saw his agenda consistently blocked. Many will be watching to see whether he will now seek compromise or confrontation.

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