On June 7, more than 375 million Europeans from 27 different countries were called to participate in the elections to the European Parliament—the only multinational parliament in the world elected by universal ballot. It was the seventh such calling since the first pan-European election in 1979.

The European Parliament holds significant power—over environment, transportation, immigration, commerce, agriculture and foreign policy—and its legislation affects the daily life of millions of people. Some say more than 70 percent of a country’s laws are decided or directly influenced by the decisions in Brussels, where the European Parliament is based.

That means this should have been an election to decide Europe’s political orientation for the next five years, determining who is best going to represent the interests of each country at a European level. In principle campaign issues should focus on the analysis of last legislative term and ascertain who has best contributed to the development of European policies. But reality has been radically different. In most countries, the elections have had a strong domestic character. In many cases, it has been a popularity test for the domestic governments. In Spain, Italy, the U.K., France and Germany, political parties have developed campaigns where their main characters were not the candidates to the European Parliament, but their national leaders from home and abroad.