Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was registered as a candidate for the next election by his party despite serving a 12-year sentence for corruption.

Supporters of the former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attend a rally in Curitiba, Brazil on August 30, 2018.
Supporters of the former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attend a rally in Curitiba, Brazil on August 30, 2018. (Reuters)

Brazil's top electoral court will open debate on Friday afternoon whether jailed former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva should be barred from running in this year's presidential election due to a corruption conviction.

The seven-member court was expected to declare Lula ineligible, removing a cloud hanging over Brazil's most uncertain election in decades. It was not clear if a ruling would come Friday or next week.

Lula, Brazil's most popular politician, is serving a 12-year sentence for a corruption conviction. His Workers' Party registered him as its presidential candidate for the October 7 vote anyway, saying he is innocent.

Lula is likely ineligible for office under Brazil's "Clean Slate" law, which prohibits candidates from running if they have convictions that have been upheld on appeal.

Despite his conviction and several graft cases pending against him, Lula leads the race by a long stretch, with 39 percent of voter support, according to pollster Datafolha. His nearest rival, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, has 19 percent.

TRT World spoke to journalist Michael Fox on Lula's popularity in Brazil.

Ads by the Workers' Party calling on Brazilians to vote for Lula began to appear on social media on Friday, and will be shown on television as of Saturday when the race enters its final 35 days of campaigning.

If Lula is barred, his running mate Fernando Haddad, a former mayor of Sao Paulo, will head the ticket hoping to inherit the bulk of Lula's votes. The party has until September 17 to swap their names on the ballot.

The court could also rule on Friday on a request by the conservative Partido Novo to exclude Lula from the TV and radio ads campaign.

The court on Thursday rejected another request by opponents of Lula to exclude his name from opinion polls until his eligibility has been decided.

Source: Reuters