French incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday defended his economic and social policies over the past five years in yet another fresh attempt to overturn weak poll scores.
"I ask you to believe me. I gave everything to France for five years," Sarkozy told thousands of his supports in a reelection campaign speech in the suburbs of Paris.
"For five years, I have done my best to protect the French from all these crises, to ensure that France is stronger. I am committed as ever I had done before in my life," he said.
Sarkozy, who is currently lagging behind Socialist Francois Hollande in opinion polls, is under heavy fire as oppositions blame him for dragging the country to recession and a record high joblessness rate.
But casting himself as the French's protector, Sarkozy said he "understood that the French would be shocked to see (him) give up (as) they wanted."
"I learned that there was as much an obligation of engagement than of results... Help me to build strong France," he said.
The incumbent president reiterated pledges to bring jobs to million of job seekers by improving training, and to listen more to French voters by calling referendums on reforms.
He said he wanted to seek "the opinion of the French by referendum whenever anyone tries to speak for them for the interests that are not those of the entire nation."
With just five weeks to go before the first round of vote on April 22, dozens of polls suggested that Hollande would beat Sarkozy by up to 18 points in the May 6 runoff.