PARIS, April 23 (Xinhua) -- After Socialist candidate Francois Hollande won the presidential election's first round, incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy, still "confident" to win the race to the Elysee Palace, wooed the far right by reiterating pledges of immigration cut and border security.
On Sunday's first round, Hollande lead the 10-candidates list with 28.63 percent of votes, outpacing Sarkozy whose score stood at 27.18 percent, the first president to be forced into second place in the first round of a re-election bid.
The unexpected high vote for the far right leader Marine Le Pen made the first round's surprise. About 17.9 percent of an estimated 44.3 million French casted their ballots for an anti-immigration policy and abandonment of the euro currency.
In response to record surge of the far right, battling Sarkozy said he heard "the suffering vote" of the far rightists.
"The people have expressed a crisis vote which bears witness to their worries, their suffering and their anxiety in face of this new world that is forming," the incumbent president said on Sunday after results were released.
"In this world which changes so fast, people's concern about preserving their way of life is the central issue of this election," he added.
Analysts said Sarkozy would need to convince at least three quarters of Le Pen's supporters and two thirds of those of the centrist candidate Francois Bayrou to guarantee a victory on May 6.
"The real surprise is Marine Le Pen's score ... The big uncertainty is the transfer of Marine Le Pen votes in the second round. For the moment, what we're seeing is a relatively limited transfer in favor of Nicolas Sarkozy," Carine Marce, political analyst at Ins-Sofres told TF1 TV.
"If the transfers remain at the levels we've seen until now in the polls, it's practically mission impossible for Sarkozy," she added.
Opinion polls on Sunday showed that between 48 and 60 percent of Le Pen voters planned to back Sarkozy while Bayrou's supporters split almost evenly between the two finalists, with one third undecided.
"The game is getting very difficult for Nicolas Sarkozy. There's a genuine demand for social justice, precisely because times are hard and voters see sacrifices will have to be made," Jerome Saint-Marie of CSA pollster said on i>TELE channel news.
A skilled campaigner and experienced orator, Sarkozy challenged Hollande to hold three public debates with him before the second round of the vote.
"I propose that three debates be organized. The French have the right to truth and clarity," Sarkozy told supporters.
Having being blamed for dragging Europe's second largest powerhouse to recession and record high joblessness rate, Sarkozy, 57, called on French people to join him to build "strong France," pledging to return to full employment, promote economic growth, reform Schengen treaty and trim immigration flows.
The presidential frontrunners Sarkozy and Hollande are set to resume their duel on April 27 with a series of campaign rallies. A face-to-face television debate is scheduled for May 2.