The Constitución CDMX: Espacio de Encuentro was an online platform and live events series that aimed to crowdsource Mexico City’s new constitution.
Mexico City used to be known as DF, Distrito Federal. It was literally a federal district, with the federal government getting last word on many of its municipal-level decisions. In 2016, in an effort to devolve power and promote autonomy, the City was renamed Mexico City–la Ciudad de Mexico, or CDMX. It got its own new constitution. The citizens-government relationship in Mexico is fraught at best and hostile at worst. Half of the population sees democracy as a system in which everyone participates but few benefit.4 Almost a third report zero trust in the federal government.4 In an effort to repair the citizen-government interface, at least in the capital, the City decided to involve its citizens in the constitutional creation.
Constitución CDMX: Espacio de Encuentro–CDMX Constitution: Meeting Place, had four components that worked in conjunction with live public events held to discuss various issues like health and mobility.3 The first was a survey to rank the importance of various urban issues. The second allowed users to add their own events to the public calendar and to submit reports of the conclusions of their events.3 The third component allowed citizens to start petitions about specific issues on Change.org.3 All petitions that received 5,000 or more signatures were considered by the constitution’s drafting group and all that received 10,000 or more were invited to present to the drafting group in person.3
The last component was a commenting platform to open public discussion. Conclusive reports from public events were posted and later, the draft constitution. Citizens could comment and vote on and respond to each other’s comments.
The City installed 300 screens in metro stations around the city to invite citizens without home access to the internet to participate.2
The Constitutional Assembly, a mix of 60 elected and 40 appointed officials, had the final word on the creation of the constitution. It was responsible for reviewing all of the input from the platform, but not obligated to implement any of it.4
It’s not clear as of yet that this experiment represents a shift of power to the people, and it’s yet to be determined if many of the proposals will be implemented. But it does represent a collective moment of reflection, a way to harness the imaginations of nine million citizens, a way to get closer to mining a collective vision for the future.