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Jailed Brazil’s ex-leader, Lula, leads in presidential polls

Imprisonment hasn’t knocked Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva out of the lead in the countries presidential race.

A poll released Sunday by the Datafolha institute shows the center-leftist with a 2-1 advantage over his nearest rival under one election scenario. It’s the first survey of Brazilians since da Silva’s April 7 jailing on corruption and money laundering charges. He is appealing the conviction, but it could lead electoral courts to rule him ineligible for the ballot.

At least 30 percent of those polled say they back da Silva to return to the office he held from 2003 to 2010. And if he cannot run, two-thirds of his potential supporters said they would vote for whoever he endorses.

In a race among 16 potential candidates, the poll showed Da Silva topped conservative lawmaker Jair Bolsonaro 30-15 percent, with Marina Silva running third. In another possible combination of candidates, da Silva topped Bolsonaro 31-17 percent.

Da Silva’s ratings dipped slightly from a January Datafolha poll when he was backed by 34 to 37 percent. But it’s not clear if that was due to his legal problems to or a different combination of rivals. Several contenders listed in that poll have dropped out or been added, making a direct comparison impossible.

Da Silva’s Workers’ Party has pledged to register him on the Aug.15 deadline, but current electoral law bars his candidacy. In scenarios without the left-leaning leader, Bolsonaro and former Environment Minister Silva are roughly even, with about 17 to 15 points.

On Friday, Bolsonaro was charged with racism by Brazil’s attorney general, but the poll was completed before the news broke.

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