Miguel Angel Lara Otaola, Head of Programme for the Mexico and Central America Office, International IDEA meeting with Yuri Beltrán Miranda, Councillor of Mexico City's Electoral Institute.
Miguel Angel Lara Otaola, International IDEA’s Head of Programme for the Mexico and Central America Office, and Yuri Beltrán Miranda, Councillor of Mexico City’s Electoral Institute (IECM, for its acronym in Spanish), met in Mexico City to explore potential collaboration between both institutions and the potential support from International IDEA to Mexico City’s election and citizen participation processes. Specifically, there was a detailed conversation addressing the ways in which International IDEA can contribute to IECM’s work on direct democracy mechanisms, such as referendums and the strengthening of citizen participation.
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Mexico City’s Electoral Institute (IECM) is in charge of organizing elections and citizen participation processes in Mexico City. In addition to organizing elections and other participatory processes, promoting civic education and guaranteeing the political-electoral rights of vulnerable groups within the population, the Institute also works to encourage decisive participation of Mexico City citizens in the life of their communities.
The IECM has received both national and international awards. These include the “Código L” (Code L) award, for the installation of a nursing room in the institution, and for encouraging a culture of respect, gender equality and promotion of human rights, as well as complying with the ‘Mexican Labour Equality and Non- discrimination Standard’, becoming the first public institution in Mexico to receive it. The IECM is also the first local electoral institution in the world to receive the ISO 17-582 certification—best known as the “electoral ISO”—a guideline specifically designed for electoral institutions which guarantees that their operation and procedures meet the highest international quality standards.
During the meeting, International IDEA and the IECM agreed on the benefits of citizen’s deeper involvement on public affairs. Firstly, because reaching out to citizens and asking them about public affairs contributes to public deliberation and, consequently, to the formulation of public policies. Secondly, because it promotes more transparency in public processes and decisions, since there is a stricter surveillance of their actions. Thirdly, because it generates further control mechanisms which strengthen accountability; the more citizens become involved in public affairs, the more demanding they become in their relationship with authorities.
Miguel Angel Lara Otaola also pointed out to Councillor Yuri Beltrán the technical expertise and comparative knowledge that International IDEA has developed and can offer to the IECM. Specifically, he highlighted three key topics within International IDEA: citizen participation, democratic accountability, new technologies, elections and democracy. Some of International IDEA’s activities and products include the Direct Democracy Handbook (2008)—along with its respective database—which makes an analytical comparison of direct participation mechanisms across the world, including referendums, public initiatives, mandate recall and citizen agenda priorities; the Participation, Representation, Conflict Management and Governance Handbook (2002), which offers a practical analysis of key concepts and essential tools to strengthen local participation. Moreover, two key publications aimed at promoting the participation of specific population groups, are Increasing youth participation throughout the electoral cycle (2016), and Overcoming Political Exclusion, Strategies for marginalized groups to successfully engage in political decision-making (2013).
It is because of these accumulated experiences and knowledge that International IDEA can provide support so that citizen consultation processes are carried out to international standards and take into account the best available practice. International IDEA is also able to provide technical assistance in activities designed to connect directly with citizens, such as participatory budgeting, so that more people get involved, and so that—with the help of new technologies, their impact and reach can be multiplied.