French President Nicolas Sarkozy remained defiant, despite being beaten into second place by socialist challenger François Hollande in Sunday's first round presidential ballot. He is looking to woo the far right with pledges to get tough on immigration and security without alienating the middle ground supporters .

Walking out to loud cheers from an appreciative crowd, Mr Sarkozy said he was feeling positive for the 2nd round of elections, speaking in French he said:

"Yesterday the French gave a lesson in civics to everyone who was making predictions. Those predictions were swept aside. I hope that gets rid of your desire to spend so much money on surveys. Even at eight o'clock, with the exception of one of them, they were completely wrong. We are going into the second round with an extremely strong campaign."

The embattled president achieved a score of 27.18% according to final results published by the interior ministry, a shade below Hollande's 28.63% with the far right candidate Marine Le Pen snapping at his heels with just under 18% -- the best ever result for her party. The thrust of his campaign will target, all French people, left and right, saying "they, have to be able to choose".