Brazil’s presidential candidates have taken part in the first TV debate of the campaign.
Incumbent President Dilma Rousseff faced her main rivals Marina Silva of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) and Aecio Neves of the PSDB.
Dilma Rousseff is ahead in the polls for the October 5 election but analysts predict it will go to a second round.
Marina Silva has replaced the former PSB candidate Eduardo Campos, who died in a plane crash earlier this month.
In the much-anticipated debate, President Dilama Rousseff defended her government’s popular social programs but blamed the international economic crisis for the country’s slowing economy.
Marina Silva spoke passionately about the need for widespread political reform and to remove power from the hands of traditional elites.
The latest opinion polls in Brazilian media on Tuesday showed Marina Silva had narrowed Dilma Rousseff’s lead to 34%, down from 38% in early August.
It gave Marina Silva 29% of voter support and Aecio Neves 19%.
Brazil’s presidential candidates have taken part in the first TV debate of the campaign (photo AFP)
The poll, published by O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.
Tuesday’s televised debate also includes candidates Eduardo Jorge (PV), Levy Fidelix (PRTB), Luciana Genro (PSOL) and Pastor Everaldo (PSC).
Dilma Rousseff is seeking re-election with the Workers’ Party (PT).
Marina Silva used to be a member of the PT during the government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, but has since become a stern critic.
A former environment minister, Marina Silva ran for president in 2010 for the tiny Green Party and secured 19 million votes, but was knocked out in the first round.
Marina Silva decided to run for vice-president alongside Eduardo Campos after the Electoral Court in October 2013 refused to register her political movement, Rede Sustentabilidade (The Sustainability Network).
However, Marina Silva was appointed as the PSB’s main candidate after his sudden death.
Eduardo Campos died after a private jet crashed in bad weather in the port city of Santos, Sao Paulo state, while travelling from Rio de Janeiro to the seaside resort of Guaruja.
Brazil’s presidential election will go to a second round later in October if no candidate gets more than 50% of the votes.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her poll rival, centre-left Peer Steinbrueck, are due to take part in their only televised election debate.
The event is seen as the Social Democrat (SPD) leader’s biggest chance to claw back Angela Merkel’s lead in the opinion polls before this month’s vote.
Although Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc is expected to win, her coalition partners are faring poorly.
The 90-minute debate starts at 18:30 GMT and will be aired on main channels.
With three weeks to go before the September 22 vote, the two candidates will be grilled by four journalists before an estimated TV audience of up to 20 million.
Peer Steinbrueck will face the first question and Angela Merkel will have the final answer, with each answer limited to 90 seconds.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her poll rival, centre-left Peer Steinbrueck, are due to take part in their only televised election debate
So far, there have been few campaign issues that have exposed major policy differences between the two figures and the parties have focused on their personalities.
Peer Steinbrueck is often witty but prone to gaffes, while Angela Merkel often seems less than comfortable in the cut and thrust of live debate.
The TV duel may shift enough opinion to alter the election result.
Peer Steinbrueck, 66, served as finance minister under Chancellor Angela Merkel when his SPD party was in a “grand” coalition with her Christian Democrat (CDU) after the 2005 election. But he has refused to enter a similar power-sharing deal.
The pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), currently part of the coalition, are widely expected to perform badly in the polls.
However, an opinion poll on Friday gave Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc 41% of the vote, which might enable her to stay in power with the FDP. Peer Steinbrueck’s Social Democrats were trailing on 26%.
If Peer Steinbrueck does narrow the gap, Angela Merkel, 59, is likely to remain chancellor but the two parties would be forced to consider rebuilding a coalition.
Jordanian MP Mohammad Shawabka threw one of his shoes at political opponent Mansour Sayf al-Din Murad during a television debate before pulling a gun on him.
The incident occurred after the debate between MP Mohammad Shawabka and political activist Mansour Sayf al-Din Murad on the private satellite channel Jo Sat became heated, with the pair trading insults.
“You’re a Mossad agent,” said the activist, to which MP Mohammad Shawabka replied: “You’re a big crook.”
Jordanian MP Mohammad Shawabka threw one of his shoes at political opponent Mansour Sayf al-Din Murad during a television debate before pulling a gun on him
Mansour Sayf al-Din Murad stood up and began shouting at the activist. The host, Mohammad Habashneh, who was sitting between them, urged his guests to “calm down”.
But the MP took off his right shoe and threw it before pulling out a silver pistol and pointing it at the activist.
The opponents left their seats and tussled with one another while the host tried to separate them.
The two men continued to struggle as the show ended and the credits ran.
President Nicolas Sarkozy and his rival Francois Hollande have traded insults in their only TV debate of the election campaign.
Nicolas Sarkozy called Francois Hollande a “little slanderer”, while his challenger said the president shirked responsibility.
The president defended his record and said he had kept France out of recession. But Francois Hollande said France was going through a “serious crisis” and was struggling with slow growth.
The run-off vote takes place on Sunday.
It was a long, bad-tempered debate that left the impression that neither candidate liked each other.
There were plenty of angry exchanges, with both candidates accusing each other of lying.
Francois Hollande accused Nicolas Sarkozy of “ruining the French economy”, prompting his rival to say he had been unfairly blamed.
“It’s never your fault,” Francois Hollande responded, to which Nicolas Sarkozy said: “It’s a lie, it’s a lie!”
President Nicolas Sarkozy and his rival Francois Hollande have traded insults in their only TV debate of the election campaign
Analysts said neither candidate landed a knockout blow – which may be to the advantage of Francois Hollande, the favorite for Sunday’s vote.
Opinion polls suggest the Socialist candidate has a lead of seven percentage points.
Francois Hollande said he would work to help those in need, saying that those “with privileges” had been protected under Nicolas Sarkozy.
“I will be a president for justice, because we are going through a serious crisis that hits in particular the most modest of us, the hardest working people, those who are the most vulnerable.”
He accused Nicolas Sarkozy of failing to take responsibility for the economic difficulties that France was suffering, blaming it instead on the global economic crisis.
Francois Hollande said unemployment levels were “a record” and referred to the downgrading of France’s credit rating.
Lashing back at Francois Hollande, President Nicolas Sarkozy said France had done better than other European countries in coping with the economic climate.
“What is the country to not have known recession since 2009 – it is France,” Nicolas Sarkozy said.
He rejected Francois Hollande’s proposed stimulus programmes, insisting that France had to cut spending and debts.
Nicolas Sarkozy also accused Francois Hollande of representing only the unions, rather than all of France.
“It’s all very nice to talk about uniting people, but it has to be put into practice,” he said.
Francois Hollande also said he would be firm on demands made by the Muslim community, saying he supported France’s ban on face-covering veils and would not allow separate hours in swimming pools for men and women.
Nicolas Sarkozy has similarly criticized demands for special treatment from France’s Muslim community.
The debate was broadcast live by several channels and ran over time to nearly three hours.
There has been a huge build-up to the event, billed variously by newspapers as The Last Duel and The Final Confrontation.
About a third of France’s 63 million people were set to watch the live debate.
Nicolas Sarkozy had attacked Francois Hollande for refusing to hold three election debates instead of one, but there has been just one debate per presidential election since 1974, apart from in 2002 when Jacques Chirac refused to debate with the far right’s Jean-Marie Le Pen.
A key moment in Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 debate with Segolene Royal – Francois Hollande’s former partner and mother of his children – came when he told the Socialist candidate to “calm down”. She repeatedly refused to do so, saying some anger was “perfectly healthy”.
In this debate, Nicolas Sarkozy came across as the more aggressive participant, leaning forward and raising his voice more often, analysts say.
It was presented by two French TV anchors, Laurence Ferrari of TF1 and David Pujadas of France 2.