Taiwan’s voters in January will have the chance to reset the island’s fraught relationship with China, and cool down one of the world’s key geopolitical flashpoints.

With less than seven weeks to go until polling day, that prospect now hangs in the balance after opposition parties that seek better relations with Beijing failed to unite behind a single candidate, despite weeks of chaotic and often acrimonious negotiations that played out in public.

The collapse of the opposition alliance makes Chinese President Xi Jinping’s stated goal of voluntary unification with Taiwan more remote, with pro-Beijing votes scattered among the challengers to the incumbent Democratic Progressive Party. That would benefit the ruling party’s candidate, Vice President Lai Ching-te, who wants to further strengthen Taiwan’s ties with Washington.