Survey describes chances of ex-president becoming leader again

Brazil’s former president is poised to beat incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, a poll shows

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was polling at 41%, ahead of President Jair Bolsonaro with 30%, according to a survey conducted by PoderData between January 31 and February 1. Lula da Silva’s lead over Bolsonaro has slightly narrowed compared to a 42-28 difference two weeks ago. 

In a runoff vote, Lula da Silva would beat Bolsonaro with 54% against 37%, the same poll found. Both men have not yet formally declared their candidacies. A different poll last month showed that Lula da Silva could win in the first round.

Famous for his left-wing government’s social welfare programs, Lula da Silva served as president between 2003 and 2010. In 2018, he surrendered to serve a 12-year jail sentence from a corruption conviction, which he argued was politically motivated. The verdict barred Lula da Silva from running for president later that year, despite being seen as a frontrunner.

Brazil’s Supreme Court released Lula da Silva from jail in 2019 and annulled his conviction in 2021, opening a path for him to challenge Bolsonaro.

Lula da Silva, who called his comeback “a resurrection,” told Reuters in December that, if elected again, he would strive to form an economic bloc with other South American countries and the EU to “face up to the two giants… the United States and China.”

On Wednesday, Lula da Silva attacked Bolsonaro on Twitter, accusing his rival of “telling more than seven lies a day.” 

“Every day he gets up to lie to the Brazilian people, but the people are already realizing it and are tired,” he wrote.

A former army captain, Bolsonaro won the election in 2019 by championing conservative values and heavily criticizing the left-wing policies of previous governments. He later came under fire himself for publicly downplaying the severity and dangers of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bolsonaro lashed out at his chief opponent on Monday, speaking about the major corruption scandals that led to the impeachment of Lula da Silva’s handpicked successor Dilma Rousseff and her removal from office in 2016. 

“The same guy who almost broke Brazil for good… wants to return to the crime scene,” Bolsonaro said. “It’s inadmissible to think that the return of this bandit represents the wishes of the population. It’s not true.”

Brazilians will vote for the president and the country’s parliament, the National Congress, on October 2.

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