A third of French voters declined to choose between centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s presidential election, either abstaining or spoiling their ballots — a record rate in nearly half a century.

According to official results with more than 80 percent of votes counted, the abstention rate stood at 24.52 percent — the highest since the presidential election in 1969.

In addition, the interior ministry reported a record number of blank and invalid ballots, accounting for nine percent of all registered voters, compared to two percent in the first round.

“That would make a total of one French person out of three who decided not to choose between the two candidates. It’s really a lot for a presidential election,” Anne Jadot, political science professor at the University of Lorraine, told AFP.

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