Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva could start serving a prison sentence within days after the country’s top court ruled that he does not have the right to first exhaust all appeal processes against his 2017 graft conviction.

Lula is bidding to stage a return to office and has been leading in opinion polls ahead of the October election, but his failure to get his conviction quashed had already made disqualification from running from office virtually inevitable.

Under Brazilian electoral law, a candidate is forbidden from running for elected office for eight years after being found guilty of a crime, although there is a discretionary element to the eligibility decisions that Brazil’s top electoral court is due to make in mid-August.