Perspectives Papers | 2019

The Evolution of Local Governance in Mexico City: Pursuing Autonomy in a Growing Region

This paper examines the evolution of Mexico City’s governance structure in relation to the pursuit of greater political and administrative autonomy. Although it is a federalist country, Mexico has had relatively centralized governments. The governance, finances, and legislation of the country’s capital, Mexico City (formerly the federal district), were in the hands of the federal government until recently. Yet since the 1980s, strong civic demands for greater local autonomy have led to significant victories, culminating in the first elections for Mexico City mayor in 1996.

Twenty years later, in 2016, the federal district was dissolved to make Mexico City the 32nd state of the country. The first local Constitution was completed a year later, along with the formation of a local-state congress. Such shifts would not have been possible without the participation of sociopolitical movements and organizations. Nonetheless, further social and political mobilization will be required to consolidate and put to good use the city’s autonomy and address persistent challenges, such as metropolitan and regional coordination with neighbouring states and municipalities to promote inclusive and sustainable growth and development across the entire metropolis.

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