Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil holds its first online presidential debate

Marina Silva (left), Jose Serra (centre) and Dilma Rousseff (right) during the online debate
The online debate reflects how web usage has surged in Brazil

Brazil has held its first presidential online debate, with the three main candidates answering questions from each other and from the public.

Dilma Rousseff, Jose Serra and Marina Silva tackled a range of subjects during the two-hour debate.

Live streaming of the event was carried by dozens of websites and also could be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

Campaigning has moved up a gear for the 3 October election, with daily election advertising on TV and radio.

The debate, organised by Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper and the UOL web portal, was held in Sao Paulo in front of an audience of several hundred people.

It was made possible after Brazil amended its electoral law in 2009 to allow a debate to take place without being transmitted on TV.

It was split into six blocs, with the candidates responding to questions from each other, then to selected video questions from members of the public and finally to questions from journalists.

The candidates, Dilma Rousseff from the governing Workers Party (PT), Jose Serra from the Social Democratic Party (PSDB) and the Green Party's Marina Silva tackled subjects ranging from abortion, to political alliances, to campaign donations from private companies.

Campaign programmes are now on television at least twice a day

Health and education also emerged as key themes.

Internet use has grown rapidly in Brazil in recent years. Earlier this month market research firm Comscore said Brazil, along with Indonesia and Venezuela, led the surge in global use of Twitter.

However, television remains the key tool to reach voters, above all in rural regions, analysts say.

The online debate came a day after election advertising began on free-to-air radio and TV networks in Brazil.

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