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Poll shows former Brazilian leader Lula a favourite in 2018 vote

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SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva remains a favourite for the 2018 presidential election, according to a poll published Sunday, despite the five separate corruption trials he faces.

The Datafolha survey published in the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper showed Lula easily taking a first-round vote, winning 30 percent support from those polled. Two potential competitors were in second with 11 percent.

Current President Michel Temer - who has repeatedly said he will not run in 2018 - polled at just 2 percent.

Despite Lula’s wide margin in a first-round vote, the poll showed that in a runoff he was in a statistical tie with Marina Silva, a former senator who came in third in Brazil’s past two presidential elections, and anti-corruption federal judge Sergio Moro, who has said he would never enter politics.

Lula, founder of the Workers Party, is on trial in Moro’s court and is expected to testify for the first time on May 10. If Lula is found guilty by Moro or in any of the four other trials he faces, he would not be eligible to run for the presidency.

The poll is the first since the Supreme Court authorized an investigation into dozens of senators and federal deputies in connection with the sweeping political graft probe revolving around kickbacks at state-run oil company Petrobras.

Many analysts see voter anger over corruption opening the door for a candidate from outside Brazil’s political establishment, along with the fact nearly all expected candidates are ensnared in the corruption investigation.

That was reflected in the latest survey which captured a significant increase in the popularity of right wing, law-and-order congressman Jair Bolsonaro, whose support rose to 15 percent in a first-round vote, compared with 4 percent in a December Datafolha survey.

The most recent poll interviewed 2,781 people across Brazil from April 26-27. The margin of error was 2 percent.

Reporting by Brad Brooks; Editing by Andrew Hay