Paris: French President Nicolas Sarkozy officially announced on Thursday that he was running for re-election, with fewer than 10 weeks to polling day and the centre-right leader trailing in opinion polls.
"Yes, I am a candidate in the presidential election," Sarkozy said in an interview on France's television.
"I took this decision because France, Europe and the world have for the last three years seen a series of unprecedented crises, which means that not seeking a new mandate from the French people would be abandoning my duties."
Sarkozy said he was presenting himself as "the captain of a boat in the heart of a storm", adding, "I have things to say to the French people, I have proposals to make to them."
The French president has been operating on a de facto campaign schedule of television appearances and twice-weekly regional tours for months now, but had yet to officially confirm his candidacy.
Opinion polls consistently forecast that Sarkozy will be beaten by Socialist rival Francois Hollande in a run-off on May 6, but the president's camp is clinging to hope that he can rekindle the energy that brought him to office in 2007.
Sarkozy's programme combined the most modern tactics -- he launched a Twitter account on Wednesday -- and the most traditional -- he was due to visit a provincial cheese factory in the Alps on Friday.