Mexico City’s New Constitution

September 7, 2016
Mexico City’s New Constitution

After a long discussion process, a constitutional reform was finally approved in order to politically categorize the Federal District as a new state, with autonomy as relates to its internal system and its political and administrative organization. The newly-named Mexico City is now the 32nd Mexican state. Mexico had followed, with a few variables, the U.S.’s solution to designate a defined territory to serve as the seat of federal governmental power. In the U.S., the capital is Washington, District of Columbia (or D.C.), while in Mexico it has been the Federal District (Distrito Federal or D.F.). One difference between the two capitals is that in Mexico the D.F. was established as the political, cultural, religious and economic center of the country, while in the U.S., Washington D.C. was created by the agreement of the states. Some argued that residents of the Federal District had diminished political representation because they could not designate their governing authorities because the Mexican Constitution provides that the President of the Republic would appoint the “Head of the Department of the Federal District,” who would report directly to the President.

After several reforms in recent years, a Legislative Assembly was created as a kind of state Congress, and local districts or “delegations” were given the authority to appoint the delegation heads, and the residents of the Federal District were given the authority to designate the Head of Government of the city. Now with the constitutional reform, residents of the former Federal District may designate the Head of Government of Mexico City, the delegation mayors, as well as the members of the Legislature. The reform changed the historic name of the Federal District, and replaced it with Mexico City, the acronym for which is “CDMX” for its name in Spanish. The name change has been greatly criticized by residents of the capital because the prior expression, “D.F.” was deeply rooted.

There is much anticipation as to the contents of the new Mexico City Constitution. Additionally, there will be mayors in the 16 delegations, who will be accompanied in their administrative work by collegiate bodies consisting of 10 councilors for each delegation who will be responsible for the administration of each delegation.

The Constituent Assembly that will begin to work on September 15, 2016 is to deliver the text of the Constitution to be enacted in February, 2017, which will coincide with the commemoration of the centenary of Mexico’s Constitution on February 5, 2017. The process of creating the Assembly is set forth in the Mexican Constitution, by means of a mixed mechanism: 60 deputies elected by popular vote under the principal of proportional representation on a multi-member list, which has already occurred in the elections held on June 7; 14 senators elected by two thirds of the members of the Senate of the Republic; 14 federal deputies designated by the vote of two thirds of the representatives in the Chamber of Deputies (federal); 6 deputies designated by the President of the Republic and 6 deputies designated by the Head of the Government of the Federal District. This group of constituents will review the draft Constitution of Mexico City to be presented by the Mexico City Head of Government.

For purposes of preparing the draft to be discussed, the Mexico City Head of Government has consulted with various advisors, including academics, politicians, and constitutional law experts, including Dr. Mario Melgar Adalid, who serves as of-counsel to Cacheaux, Cavazos & Newton, L.L.P.

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