Crowdsourcing the Mexico City Constitution

With the drafting of its first Constitution, Mexico City had a great opportunity: to explore innovative ways of crowd-sourcing this historic document, setting an example to other cities in the world on how to design important democratic experimentation at the scale of a megalopolis. The result of the entire Constitutional process is a forward-thinking document with progressive social policy and human rights at its heart. It became a legal reality in September 2018.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Mexican citizens’ trust in government was at a historic low. Nationally, only 6% of Mexicans were satisfied with their democratic system and just 2% 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% 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 and include other voices, the Mayor Mexico City asked Laboratorio para la Ciudad - the experimental arm of the Mexico City government - to created a multi-tiered and citywide campaign to collect citizen opinions and proposals for the city’s constitution. One part of the campaign included a survey was 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 city also used 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. Also, citizens were allowed to form their own meetings to discuss topics, uploading the date of the reunion as well as the results on the official web page of the Constitution; more than 100 groups formed to discuss topics such as mobility and indigenous rights. All of these inputs were handed over to the drafting group.

The draft was submitted to a national constitutional assembly for final approval.

On the platform, 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 went into effect in September 2018, includes 14 articles based on citizen petitions through this mechanism, including proposals from 17 year-olds who do not yet have the right to vote. The result is an historic document that includes an increased autonomy for Mexico City and a new series of human rights and social policies. The rights outlined in the constitution now bolster a number of other efforts aimed at engaging citizens and transforming communities. 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 and became a historic moment for cities world-wide, provoking much reflection on urban futures and the place of cities in global conversations. This historic process and document will have an impact in generation after generation of inhabitants of the fourth largest city in the world.

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Year: 2018
Level of government: Local government


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