Mexico City created a citywide campaign to elicit citizen opinions and proposals for the city’s new constitution using a citizen working group and online petitions. Many of the proposals were incorporated into the final constitution.
Mexican citizens’ trust in government was at a historic low. Nationally, only 6 percent of Mexicans were satisfied with their democratic system and just 2 percent of the population trusted their government. Though the federal government granted Mexico City the ability to create a city constitution, the process allowed for very little input from the people. Only 60 percent of the city’s constitutional assembly was democratically elected and it was presumed that the draft would be made exclusively by the mayor. The fact that citizens were not initially given a seat at the table to draft their city’s constitution further deteriorated their trust in government.
In order to build trust, Mexico City leaders created a citywide campaign to collect citizen opinions and proposals for the city’s constitution. The campaign included a survey called Imagina Tu Ciudad (Imagine Your City) that asked citizens about their hopes, fears, and ideas for the future of the city and garnered 31,000 submissions. The mayor also created a working group to draft the constitution, consisting of academics, activists, former mayors, and other citizens representing a diverse cross-section of the population. The draft was submitted to a constitutional assembly for final approval. The city also used Change.org to capture citizen petitions for the constitution. Petitions that received 10,000 signatures were presented to three representatives of the working group. Petitions that exceeded 50,000 signatures were presented directly to the mayor, who committed to including them in a draft of the constitution for approval by the constitutional assembly.
Citizens submitted 341 proposals, receiving over 400,000 votes. Four petitions surpassed the 50,000-signature threshold and 11 received 10,000 signatures. The new constitution, which goes into effect in September 2018, will include 14 articles based on citizen petitions. The rights outlined in the constitution now bolster a number of other efforts aimed at engaging citizens and transforming communities. These programs include Código para la Ciudad, working groups solving problems identified in the Imagina Tu Ciudad survey through technology and innovation; Peatoninos, a program that uses data to determine which neighborhoods have a high concentration of children but little greenspace, so the city can close off streets to create space for play and educational programs; and others. The democratization of the process led to a constitution that has been recognized by the United Nations as a “historical document that addresses the central challenges of development and peace” and as “a guide to fulfill the universal, indivisible and progressive nature of human rights.” It has also increased trust and strengthened ties between citizens and local government.
“The drafting of the local Constitution – a historic moment for Mexico City – experimented with novel participatory processes, both analog and digital. We hope these will prompt new civic conversations and urban paradigms, capable of inspiring other cities and nations.”
– Dr. Miguel Angel Mancera, Mayor of Mexico City from December 2012 – March 2018