(Nicolas Sarkozy (C), France's President and UMP party candidate for the 2012 French presidential election, arrives for a campaign rally in Bordeaux March 3, 2012. REUTERS/Caroline Blumberg/Pool )

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has marked a rightward shift in his re-election campaig, pledging to cut the number of immigrants and calling for clear labelling of halal meat in a bid to entice voters away from the National Front. Speaking to thousands of flag-waving supporters at a rally in the western city of Bordeaux, Sarkozy vowed to defend secular values in France – which has Europe’s largest Muslim minority – and to send a tough message on law and order if he wins a fresh five-year term in a two-round election in April and May.

Despite rebounding in polls since launching his campaign last month, Sarkozy trails Socialist rival François Hollande.

“We must reduce the number of arrivals on our territory,” Sarkozy said on Saturday, pledging to end the automatic right of immigrants to be joined by their families. “You are not welcome in France if you are only coming to receive welfare. Everyone thinks it: it is time for republicans to say it.”

“Those who come with the intention of not respecting our laws and our customs, of not respecting the property of others, of not sending their children to school, of not making an effort at integration, they are not welcome on French soil,” he said.