Groundbreaking democracy experiment happening in Mexico!

By Andrea Hablutzel Pelayo

Crowdsourcing the Mexican Constitution

For the first time in the history of Mexico a huge social and democratic experiment is in the making. Mexico City is asking its nearly 9 million residents to raise their voice and help draft a new constitution via social media. It is not only unprecedented in this country but it has hardly been seen anywhere else, and in a lower scale of drafts.

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This may sound farfetched, citizens being able to re-write the constitution based on what they feel is needed the most, but it’s an experiment in democracy that is truly interesting how technology is the key component, perfect for the 21st century; using Change.org to petition for issues to be included in the constitution, if they gather more than 10,000 signatures they get to make their case in person.

People can also propose new things to add to the Constitution via PubPub, an editing platform. According to Mexico City’s mayor Miguel Angel Mancera, the goal is to “bestow the Constitution Project with a democratic, progressive, inclusive, civic and plural character”.

But (a big one) the constitutional assembly, who has the final say on the new city’s law, is under no obligation to even consider the citizen’s input.

This experiment is a big test for people’s empowerment as a society; digital public consultation not only exercises democracy but also freedom of speech and involvement in our country’s needs and well-being and it’s being watched worldwide.

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In just 3 weeks Change.org has collected more than 200 petitions signed by more than 10,000 people; the most popular with 3,500 supporters call for politicians to be considered service providers and to be paid for the time they actually work. The next most popular is about animal rights.

It would be great if the new constitution or parts of it would pass, but when you live in a country where people just do not trust their government and that people are very jaded about that changing, this is at least an effort to include the people, for us to participate in something important for our country.

There is a drafting committee encouraging citizens to participate, which they can do in different ways, even if you don’t have internet access, 300 kiosks have been set around the city with staff to help you in the process. It’s still early, there are still more events to get the citizens engaged in this experiment but it seems to be on the right track.

People in Mexico City cry out for their voices to be heard almost daily in the form of a protest, and it’s great but, there’s no legal mechanism that requires the government to consider what you have to say.

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