(Bloomberg) -- The first poll since Brazil’s former president was arrested showed environmentalist Marina Silva technically tied as a leading candidate in the next election with Jair Bolsonaro, who is facing accusations of racism and inciting hatred.
A Datafolha poll released by Folha de S.Paulo newspaper showed Bolsonaro with 17 percent of vote intentions and Silva with 15 to 16 percent. The polling scenario didn’t include former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whose chances of returning to power have likely ended after he was jailed on a conviction for corruption and money laundering.
Lula was a front-runner for October’s presidential race before his arrest a week ago, and the three scenarios in the Datafolha poll with him as a candidate showed the 72-year-old still getting 30 to 31 percent of vote intentions. Bolsonaro was next with 15 to 16 percent, followed by Silva with 10 percent.
Bolsonaro, a lawmaker and former Brazilian army captain, was on Friday charged by General Prosecutor Raquel Dodge for, among other incidents, remarks during a speech in Rio de Janeiro in April 2017. The charges, made to the Supreme Court, accused the 63-year-old of prejudice against Brazil’s indigenous population, women, refugees and LGBT people.
Bolsonaro’s adviser and lawyer, Gustavo Bebianno, said in a video shared in message groups that the candidate isn’t a racist, and that this will be “easily proved” in any legal proceeding.
Bolsonaro’s press office said in an emailed statement that the charges were “groundless” and aimed to produce “sensationalist” news -- adding that, as a lawmaker, the candidate has the right and duty to discuss controversial topics.
The prosecutor’s office statement quoted Bolsonaro saying in the 2017 speech that he had four male children but that his fifth, a female, was the result of a “moment of weakness.” According to Dodge, his remarks violate constitutional rights of the victims and the rights of the whole society.
If convicted, Bolsonaro could face up to three years in prison and a fine of as much as $117,000.
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