Brazil's centrist presidential candidate, Jose Serra, has challenged his leftist opponent to accept a series of televised debates. Mr. Serra, who finished second in Sunday's Presidential election, will face former union leader Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva in the October 27 runoff.

Mr. Serra, in his first extended public announcement since Sunday's vote, challenged Mr. da Silva Tuesday to agree to three televised debates this month. Mr. Serra told reporters in Sao Paulo the Brazilian people have the right to hear the views of both candidates, so they can make a decision.

For Mr. Serra, this was the message sent by Brazilian voters Sunday when they did not give Mr. da Silva the absolute majority he needed to avoid a second round.

Mr. Serra, a former health minister in the current government, came in second with 23 percent of the vote. Mr. da Silva finished with 46 percent.

Mr. da Silva has said he is willing to debate, but wants to also spend as much time as possible campaigning.

A campaign spokesman told VOA Tuesday Mr. da Silva is willing to debate once. But he said three debates is excessive because preparation time would cut into an already short campaign, noting there are only 19 days left until the October 27 vote.