BRASILIA (Reuters) - Far-right lawmaker Jair Bolsonaro leads the field for Brazil’s October presidential election, ahead of environmentalist Marina Silva, a poll showed on Thursday, though many voters remain undecided in the most uncertain election in decades.
Bolsonaro, a federal congressman, won 17 percent of voters’ support in a first-round ballot simulated by pollster Ibope, putting him ahead of Marina Silva’s 13 percent in a scenario excluding jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
When Lula was included as an option, he easily led with 33 percent of voters’ support, the poll found, with Bolsonaro trailing him at 15 percent. Lula maintains he will be the candidate for his Workers Party, but he is barred from running by a corruption conviction.
Thursday’s poll was in line with other recent surveys, which have Bolsonaro narrowly ahead of Marina Silva, but with one-third of voters saying they would spoil their ballot or not vote for anyone, leaving the race wide open.
That has focused attention on whether Lula will stand down and throw his weight decisively behind another candidate, with roughly one-third of voters saying in previous polls they would back his choice.
Bolsonaro is a former army captain who favors easing gun controls to fight crime. He has been charged with hate speech for what prosecutors say were racist and anti-gay comments.
He is also appealing a conviction for inciting violence after he told a female congresswoman on the floor of the lower house that he “would not rape her because she did not deserve it.”
Bolsonaro, who is openly supportive of Brazil’s 1964-85 military government, has seized on growing voter disillusionment after years of political and economic crises, stoked by investigations that revealed stunning levels of political graft.
Marina Silva, who served as Lula’s environment minister and as senator, mounted failed presidential bids in 2010 and 2014, running on market-friendly centrist platforms.
In the Ibope survey without Lula as a candidate, center-left populist Ciro Gomes won 8 percent of voter support while center-right former Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin took 6 percent.
The poll was commissioned by the National Confederation of Industry. Ibope interviewed 2,000 people across Brazil between June 21-24. The margin of error was 2 percentage points.
Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Writing by Brad Brooks; Editing by Brad Haynes and Dan Grebler