The leaders of Austria's two main centrist parties hurled accusations at each other Sunday over a murky smear campaign, in their first one-on-one debate a week ahead of a snap election.

Sebastian Kurz, the 31-year-old chief of the poll-topping centre-right People's Party (OeVP) accused Chancellor Christian Kern of "poisoning" Austrian politics with "dirty campaigning methods".

Kern's Social Democrats (SPOe) are facing an election fiasco after being linked to social media sites spreading anti-Semitic and xenophobic "fake news" about Kurz, who is also foreign minister.

Damning evidence emerged recently that the Facebook pages were masterminded by Kern's ex-advisor, controversial Israeli spin doctor Tal Silberstein.

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