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The risk of a public consultation
The new airport is under construction – Photo: José Méndez/EL UNIVERSAL

The risk of a public consultation

24/10/2018
08:58
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader
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Launching a consultation for government decisions should be a common measure among democratic societies

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Launching a consultation for government decisions should be a common measure among democratic societies. Any issue that polarizes society can be settled through voting exercises.
The construction of a new airport for Mexico City's metropolitan area, due to the saturation at the air terminal, has been the aim of several federal governments since 2000.

The shareholder of common land's opposition to the expropriation of their lands in San Salvador Atenco stopped the project in 2002. In 2014, the construction of a new air terminal in the Texcoco area was announced, close to the area where it had been proposed, 12 years ago. The construction began in 2015.

The government taking office on December 1st will carry out a national public consultation from October 25 to 28, to determine if the construction in Texcoco will continue or if it is halted and it begins a new construction at the military base of Santa Lucía, in the municipality of Zumpango, State of Mexico.

The exercise has been questioned by academics, as it doesn't comply with what is established by the Constitution and because the organizers have shown a clear position in favor of a project, Santa Lucía.

Survey experts point out that the consultation is far from the democratic ideal, as it is estimated that only 1% of the population will participate, also, there hasn't been enough diffusion of arguments from those who support each project.

The way in which the consultation has been formulated entails risks for the incoming government, and as a consequence, for the country.

On October 16, it was announced that between 500,000 and one million ballots would be printed and that because it is an open exercise, there is no minimum percentage to consider it as binding; therefore, it is likely that between 250,000 and 500,000 people, if 50% participates, will decide the future of a key project for the national development.

The polarization that country went through during the last election campaign could be reignited. The possible triumph of the Santa Lucía project could give elements to its adversaries, to consider that it was a manipulated exercise.

The participative democracy, which is being used by democracies all over the world, would be discredited in Mexico before it was consolidated. The consultation must meet to important aspects: transparency and certainty; not delivering audited accounts won't be good for the country's democratic life.

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