It had its logic, in the national elections the voters are choosing leaders after all and the campaign is turning around the question of the next head of the government. The Spitzenkandidates were trying to imply the same at a European level, the leader of the strongest group was meant to become the president of the European Commission. Despite many weaknesses, the plan was successful by naming Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the EPP. This time it’ll be more complicated.
The member states were never pleased with the conception due to the fact that the strategy weakened the competence of the Council of Europe. Right now it seems that a similar selection could be problematic. While the EPP seems to be the strongest faction besides the Social Democrats, other groups should not be pleased with a conservative candidate. Like the liberals of Macron, who believe the Spitzenkandidates only help to preserve the cartel of the EPP and the socialists.
The issue of democratic legitimacy won’t be solved by shadow plays. The EU won’t have federalist structures (for a very long time) and the decision is in the hands of national political parties, who shouldn’t be dismissive towards the European elections.