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    Brazil's leading presdential candidate, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. | Photo: AFP

Support for Lula has remained constant throughout the attempt to oust his Workers' Party ally, suspended President Dilma Rousseff.

Suspended President Dilma Rousseff´s predecesor, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – popularly known as Lula – is the favored candidate for the 2018 presidential election, while “interim” President Michel Temer trails far behind with just 5 percent, according to a new Datafolha poll commissioned by the Globo newspaper.

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The poll, of 2,792 respondents conducted between July 14 and 15, found that the former labor leader and Workers’ Party founder Lula leads voter preferences with 22 percent, followed by the Green Party’s Marina Silva at 17 percent. Silva finished third in the 2010 preisdential election.

Lula has expressed interest in running in the 2018 election, saying that the more he and his ally Rousseff are attacked, the more likely he is to run.

Behind the two projected frontrunners, Temer ally and Senator Aecio Neves of the right-wing PSDB party polled in third with 14 percent. Neves lost the 2014 presidential runoff to Rousseff and was a leading advocate of the ill-footed impeachment campaign against her, widely condemned as a coup.

Neves has also been named in a high-profile scandal known as Operation Car Wash, involving the state oll company, Petrobras. Temer and a number of his top allies are also implicated in the corruption scandal.

The Datafolha poll found incendiary right-wing lawmaker Jair Bolsonaro — who dedicated his pro-impeachment vote in Congress to Rousseff’s dictatorship era torturer — trailed far behind Lula, polling at 7 percent, followed by former Lula Minister Ciro Gomes at 5 percent.

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Temer’s meager support will have little bearing on the 2018 election, given that the politician has been banned from running for public office for the next eight years — even though he continues to serve as interim President as chosen by conservative lawmakers.

The poll comes just weeks ahead of an impeachment vote in which the Senate will decide whether or not to permanently remove Rousseff from office, which would install Temer until the 2018 election.

A recent report by the Public Prosecutor’s office found that she is not guilty of any crime. Unlike many of her opponents, including Temer, she has not been accused of any personal enrichment. Nevertheless, Rousseff’s rivals long attempted to paint the impeachment process as a bid against government corruption.

But rampant and massive fraud in the ranks of the opposition, paired with wiretap evidence that high-level figures plotted to block corruption investigations with her ouster, has revealed that the true motives behind the plan to remove her from office had more to do with protecting corruption than prosecuting and grabbing power that conservatives couldn’t win at the ballot box.

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