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With the run-off election just over two weeks away, Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has widened his lead over Geraldo Alckmin, the candidate of the centrist opposition PSDB.

According to poll data released by Datafolha, Mr Lula da Silva has 51 per cent of the votes, giving him an 11 point lead over Mr Alckmin, who saw his share of the vote decline to 40 per cent, 3 points lower than the poll released on October 6.

It was the first poll following a nationally televised debate in which Mr Alckmin put Mr Lula da Silva on the defensive with tough questioning about his knowledge of last month’s botched attempt by leaders of his campaign team to buy information about members of Mr Alckmin’s party.

Mr Alckmin saw his votes diminish in southern Brazil, and the country’s north-east, where the president already has a significant majority.

While analysts say Mr Lula da Silva continues to be the favourite, his victory is not set in stone.

“If new information related to the recent scandal comes out, or if Lula continues to perform poorly in the debates, we could see a turnaround,” said Murillo de Aragão, a political analyst from Brasília-based Arko Advice.

In a radio interview on Wednesday, Mr Alckmin minimised the results of the poll.

“The pollsters have been wrong over and over this election,” he said, adding that the number of votes he would receive in the first round was underestimated, while the number of votes Mr Lula da Silva would receive was exaggerated.

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