SAO PAULO – Environmentalist Marina Silva and right wing politician Jair Bolsonaro would be leading candidates in Brazil’s presidential election if jailed former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is unable to run, according to an opinion poll on Sunday, Reuters reports.
The poll from Datafolha, the first since Lula started last week serving a 12-year sentence following a corruption conviction, showed the former president would lead the race in the unlikely event he was allowed to contest the election, due in October.
Lula’s conviction leaves Brazil’s presidential race wide open.
In the event he is unable to run, the poll, which ran several scenarios around candidate composition, showed Bolsonaro had 17 percent of voting intentions to Marina’s 15 percent. Datafolha said the poll’s 2 percentage point margin of error effectively means both candidates would be in a tied position as frontrunners.
Under the same scenario without Lula, leftist Ciro Gomes and former Supreme Court justice Joaquim Barbosa, a recent addition to Brazil’s Socialist Party PSB, would tie in third place with 9 percent each.
The poll also ran separate simulations that excluded Lula from the ballot and placing current President Michel Temer and former Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles as the candidate for the ruling coalition. Both Temer and Meirelles attracted only one or two percent in the respective scenarios.
Lula is unlikely to be a candidate as Brazilian legislation bars a person who has been found guilty after an appeal from running for any public position.
In the simulations with Lula still on the ballot, the former president had 30 percent of voting intentions. In simulations in which he is excluded, the poll found that his possible substitute, former Sao Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad, would win only two percent of votes.
Brazil will hold general elections in October to choose a President, governors for 26 states and the federal district and members for both houses of Congress.
Candidates are barred from using donations from corporations, following a massive corruption scandal that sent several politicians and businessman to jail.