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Lula ruling: Brazil's ex-president and 2018 frontrunner can be jailed

Lula speaks at a rally earlier this week. Photo: Mauro Pimentel / AFP / Getty Images

After a marathon session, Brazil's Supreme Court rejected a plea from former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to remain free while he appeals his conviction for corruption by a 6-5 margin. That means Lula, who left office in 2011 with sky-high approval ratings and currently leads the polls as a candidate in Brazil's October presidential election, may begin his 12-year sentence in the coming days.

The big picture: Politics in Brazil, the world's fifth most populous country and the ninth largest global economy, have been engulfed by corruption scandals. Lula's successor, Dilma Rousseff, was removed from office in 2016 amid corruption allegations while sitting president Michel Temer has faced similar claims.