The Mexico City Constitution

For many years, the legal status of the inhabitants of Mexico City has been in question. With no capacity to designate their political and administrative authorities, the residents of the Mexican capital were not citizens with full rights. Their home territory, the Distrito Federal, was a central department entirely dependent on the federal government. An individual named at the sole discretion of the President of the Republic held the title of the public administration office, and was known as the Regent. The Regent was an important federal official who was part of the presidential cabinet and reported directly to the federal executive branch. The Distrito Federal had no legislative body, and the laws of the capital were dictated by Mexico’s federal Congress, but the capital did have a Supreme Court, whose independence was sometimes questioned. A long process of political reform led Mexico City to establish its own constitutional framework, which now treats the capital as a federative entity, as are Mexico’s states, within Mexican federal system.

After many years of progress as to decentralization, the Distrito Federal ceased to be known by such name and became Mexico City (CDMX). The essential advantages are that now inhabitants of the city are able to elect who should serve as head of government and elect those who are part of the Mexico City Legislature. In addition, positions for mayor of the city and councilmen were created and whose holders will also be designated by voters. The Mexico City Constitution was a project that involved many players. After broad consultations to collect proposals from Mexican citizens, a drafting group was formed to work with the head of government to prepare a draft Mexico City Constitution. The head of government appointed a group of advisers who assisted in this task. The city’s voters, along with, political parties, the President of the Republic and the head of government elected a group of 100 deputies, who were in charge of the final drafting and approval of the local Constitution. Some articles of the local Constitution have been challenged by the federal government, by the Supreme Court of the City, by MORENA (the political party of Andrés Manuel López Obrador) and by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH). Mexico’s federal Supreme Court will have to resolve the pending challenges and the constitutional issues that have been raised. The Mexico City Constitution will enter into force on September 17, 2018, a few weeks after President Enrique Peña Nieto hands over power to the winner in next year’s July elections.