Taiwan’s ruling Democratic People’s Party (DPP) aims to make history this weekend by becoming the self-ruled island’s first party to win a third consecutive presidential election — an achievement that would also deal a heavy blow to Beijing’s efforts to bring the island closer to China.

Yet expectations that front-runner and current Vice President Lai Ching-te would simply stroll to victory on Saturday have been dashed, as the final weeks of campaigning have seen his main rival, New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih from the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT), significantly narrow Lai’s lead in polls.

This has set the stage for what could be the island’s most hotly contested presidential race in decades.