Lula Heir Competitive But No Shoo-in for Brazil Election

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s imprisoned former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva could make his heir apparent competitive but no shoo-in in October’s highly-contested general election, an opinion poll showed on Thursday.

Endorsed by Lula, former Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad would have eight percent "certain votes", within the margin of error of five other presidential candidates, according to the poll published by Poder360, an online political news website. Twenty-six percent of respondents said they "may vote" for Haddad if he’s backed by the still hugely popular leftist leader.

Lula is serving a prison sentence of more than 12 years on corruption and money laundering charges and is expected to be barred from the race in coming days. Haddad is Lula’s current running mate and would take his place.

Following a massive corruption scandal and the deepest recession on record, voter apathy runs high. Domestic assets have sold off this month as investors come to terms with the prospect of a market-unfriendly candidate potentially winning the race. Still, the start of free television ads this Friday marks a crucial stage that could sway the highly-contested race.

By law, polling firms must run polls with the current, official candidates, including Lula. Poder360 didn’t run a scenario without him, nor a scenario for a likely run-off election, which is scheduled for Oct. 28.

According to a Datafolha poll published on Aug. 22, ex-Army Captain Jair Bolsonaro would lose a runoff to all leading candidates except for Haddad, whose Workers’ Party had been in power from 2003 to 2016, when Lula’s successor, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached.

The Workers’ Party proposes reviving state-owned banks and offering more cheap loans, the type of policies that led to high indebtedness and widening deficits. It also wants to introduce capital controls to reduce foreign currency fluctuations.

In the Poder360 poll published on Thursday, Lula has 30 percent support, followed by Bolsonaro with 21 percent. Former Ceara state governor Ciro Gomes and ex-Sao Paulo state Governor Geraldo Alckmin both garnered 7 percent.

The survey interviewed 5,500 people from Aug. 24 to Aug. 27 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Poder360 does not poll for governments, politicians or political parties, according to its website.

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