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Su Tseng-chang favorite in today's vote for DPP chair

The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will elect its new chairman today, with former Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) still the front-runner.

Su is expected to reap more than half of the votes by DPP members to defeat his four fellow contenders despite a growing campaign within the party against him, observers said.

Su is competing with former DPP Chairman Hsu Hsin-liang, Legislator Trong Chai, former Tainan County Magistrate Su Huan-chih and economics scholar Wu Jong-yi.

DPP members will also elect the heads of the party's local chapters, as well as delegates to the national congress.

The elections have been marred by allegations that a New Taipei City voter list was leaked recently, sparking concerns over possible vote rigging or vote buying.

A spokesman for the former premier's office, Wang Min-sheng, said the party has already started a probe into the allegations, and he hopes the findings can be made public as soon as possible.

Observers said the election of the head for the New Taipei City Chapter is shaping up as a battle between former Premier Su and ex-DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen.

The two major candidates for the post, Luo Chih-cheng and Chang Hung-lu, belong to Tsai's and Su's camps respectively.

Tsai stepped down from the party's top post after losing the Jan. 14 presidential election.

Many believe that Su is eyeing the DPP chairmanship as a stepping stone to the party's nomination for the 2016 presidential race.

The former DPP chief, Hsu, has voiced support for Tsai to stage a comeback in the 2016 poll, and demanded Su promise not to seek the presidential candidacy. Su has not made such a promise.

Meanwhile, Hsu entered the fifth day of a hunger strike in front of the Legislature building to protest the government's policies concerning U.S. beef imports and increases in energy prices.

He also demanded former President Chen Shui-bian be released from prison.

A doctor, Su Wei-shou, said after examining Hsu that he still had a clear mind, but that the ex-DPP leader's condition could worsen if his blood-sugar levels drop sharply today.

The doctor cited Hsu as saying that he may not be able to vote today.

All of his contenders for the chairmanship, as well as Tsai, have visited him at the hunger strike site.

Acting DPP Chairwoman Chen Chu said she is confident that the party will come out even stronger and united after today's ballot.

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Acting DPP Chairwoman Chen Chu speaks to the press on the eve of the party's leadership election, yesterday. Chen said she is confident that the party will be even more united after the election. (CNA)

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