Between 22 and 25 May 2014 citizens of the 28 EU Member States will elect their representatives to the European Parliament, the only directly elected body of the European Union. Partially in order to counteract the decreasing voter turnout since the first EP-elections in 1979, five European parties have nominated “Spitzenkandidaten” for the post of European Commission President. While national parties coordinate the campaigns of the total of 751 MEPs domestically, the European parties campaign EU-wide for their frontrunners: Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE), Jean-Claude Juncker (EPP), Ska Keller (Greens) and Martin Schulz (PES). The candidates faced each other in the first ever televised debate on 28 April in Maastricht.
Was the Europe-wide campaign successful? Were the candidates able to get their political positions across? Did putting faces on European campaigns help bring Europe closer to the people? Will it reverse decreasing voter turnout? Are European parties ready for “big campaigning”? Or do domestic issues again shape this year’s European elections?