French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen launched his fifth bid to become president on Sunday, promising to reintroduce the death penalty, reduce the criminal age to 10 and create a so-called National Guard.
The 78-year-old leader of France's Front National was on fighting form as he unveiled his "program for government" to supporters in Lille.
His manifesto, described as a "response to the 20 major problems facing France," featured the expected anti-immigration, crime and nationalist measures including pledges to end benefit payments to foreigners, create 75,000 more prison places and pull France out of NATO.
In his bullish address closing the two-day convention, Le Pen accused one of his rivals of trying to deprive him of the necessary sponsors in what he described as a "particularly foul maneuver."
He was struggling to gain the 500 signatures of elected officials needed to stand for the presidential vote in two months.
"A certain number of mayors who have signed are receiving phone calls from people trying to dissuade them," he said.
Last week, the veteran politician dropped to fourth place in the opinion polls behind right-of-center frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy, socialist Segolene Royal and centrist candidate Francois Bayrou.
Unsurprisingly, Le Pen dismissed the pollsters' findings, a response given a certain credibility by their failure to predict him winning his way into the second round of voting against Jacques Chirac in 2002.
Le Pen, who referred to the Nazi gas chambers as "a point of detail," hit the headlines again recently for his view on historical events. He dismissed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the US as an "incident," adding that the 3,000 death toll was equal to the number of people killed in Iraq in a month.
The latest opinion poll published yesterday showed Royal, 53, had closed the gap with the minister of interior Sarkozy, 52, with both securing 28 percent for the first round of voting at the end of April. It predicted that Sarkozy would win the second vote by one point.
In the Ifop poll by Le Journal du Dimanche, Royal rose 2.5 points while Sarkozy dropped four points. Bayrou rose one point to 17 percent and Le Pen half a point to 11.5 percent.