French President-elect Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Reuters, Regis Duvignau

Before the French election, a wide coalition of interests, stretching from Beijing to Washington, feared the consequences of a Marine Le Pen victory.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Macron’s more decisive than expected victory has been hailed by most major news outlets across the world as a forceful rebuke of populism.

But the numbers at the French ballot box paint a picture of a French voting public only disgusted less with Macron, not inspired more.

Blank protest ballots for the second round of voting totaled 4 million, while 12 million additional registered voters decided not to cast a vote at all, reports CNBC. Both numbers were the highest they have been since the middle of the last century.

This 16 million-strong party of the disenchanted may not have been willing to join forces with the 11 million Le Pen voters at the ballot box to challenge Macron, but the election was only the beginning of the President-elect’s battle. He will now have to win over a French public more disillusioned than any in a half century.