Trailing in the polls, Brazil’s opposition presidential candidate has attacked frontrunner Dilma Rousseff over corruption.
Jose Serra used a TV debate to strike his most aggressive tone of the campaign, as he seeks to overturn his rival’s lead ahead of next weekend’s decisive second round.
Afterwards he said his record was not tainted by ethics scandals, unlike Rousseff’s.
“The problem is the (ruling) Workers’ Party, the candidate and the government are tied up in scandals. Every week there are three or four new ones,” he said, homing in on the recent resignation of one of Rousseff’s top aides, accused of creating a kickback scheme.
“What they want the population to think is that everyone is the same, but we are different. I have 40 years of public service and no scandals; a clean record of work and honesty before our people,” he added.
Rousseff responded by accusing her opponent of arrogance: “In general this idea that as a politician you can be self-sufficient and do everything alone, it’s not very compatible with modesty, is it?”
Dilma Rousseff’s campaign has successfully shifted the focus onto Brazil’s booming economic growth under her mentor, President Lula – and away from moral issues such as abortion and religion, where many Catholic voters question her views.
One opinion poll puts her 11 points ahead of her rival.
Some observers doubt the TV debates will have much impact. The last programme started late at night and one survey showed only a quarter of people watched them.