The Madrid Decide website welcomes citizens to comment on proposed ordinances and make suggestions for changes to those ordinances, including a Legislation Processes or Procesos section of the site.
Problems and Purpose
The purpose of the online program of commenting on proposed issues is to support the City of Madrid’s plan for transparency, open government and e-participation. The purpose of the legislation processes section of the site is to give citizens the opportunity to participate in the drafting and modification of regulations affecting Madrid. Madrid’s plan is for all citizens to have personal profiles on the website, which they will use to propose, engage with, and monitor all topics that they are interested in.
Background History and Context
Madrid Decide began in September 2015 as a participatory democracy project to begin participatory strategic planning for the city.  Madrid Decide is based on CONSUL, which is an internet software developed by Madrid’s City Council to support its process for e-government and e-participation. The development of this plan came out of the May 15, 2011 15M Spanish Indignados Movement, where hundreds of thousands of citizens protested and demanded better democracy.
The website has five different sections including debates, proposals, voting, processes, and participatory budgeting.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The Ahora Madrid coalition created Madrid Decide in 2015. The website says that the Madrid City Council started the website and funds it.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
All citizens of Madrid are allowed to participate on the site, but to full participate, one must verify their account. Registered users who provide only a username, email address, and password can participate in discussions, create proposals, and create expenditure projects. Users who provide the previous information and verify their residence and provide a mobile phone number can participate in discussions, create proposals, create expenditure projects, vote for proposals, and vote for expenditure projects in the support phase. If the user provides the previous information and also fully verifies their account in person at a Citizen Assistance Office or via mail, then the user can do all of the previously mentioned things along with vote for proposals in the final decision phase. Decide Madrid now has at least 400,000 registered users.
Methods and Tools Used
The “Processes” section of the website is where the proposal is located. Anyone can participate in the commenting process before the ordinance is approved. The City Council lets citizens participate in the drafting and modification of regulations and allows citizens to give their opinions on those regulations. The opinions will be considered by the City Council. The comments are considered by the different government sectors for the final drafting of the ordinances.
This online platform uses software called CONSUL, which is a free software for citizen participation developed by the Madrid City Council. The software has features that include debates, proposals, participatory budgeting, voting, and collaborative legislation.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
People who are interested can participate by becoming a member of the website and joining in on the discussion of any of the open ordinances or policies. The public interaction is done through different users commenting online on the ordinance and on other users’ comments. Users also have the ability to upvote or downvote another user’s comment. The main tool used for this deliberation is the CONSUL software. In this section, participants cannot post new policy proposals to the site. Participants’ discussions and votes are available for the public to see when anyone visits the website. Professionals and peer facilitators were not involved in the actual deliberation process. The participants were asked to give input on policy ideas. The final decisions are made by Madrid’s government.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The opinions of the commenters will be considered by the City Council. The comments are considered by the different government sectors for the final drafting of the ordinances. The process seemed to have its intended effect because there are hundreds of comments made on any one ordinance and many members of the website learn about the different ordinances that are posted. There is no evidence that this process has influenced any of Madrid’s laws. This section of Decide Madrid has had its desired effect because it has allowed citizens to give their input on drafting and modifications affecting Madrid. This result is shown through the fact that many different citizens have commented on the ordinances and made suggestions for improvements.
There is no evidence concerning the effect that this process has had on participants’ attitudes about public issues, trust in the government, or sense of community identity.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
There has been no formal evaluation of the commenting process on this specific ordinance, but there has been an evaluation of the website as a whole. Dejohn’s conclusions on the website are that there is no proof that the website leads to improved decisions/decision-making and that not enough people are taking advantage of the website. On the website, the City of Madrid claims to consider the comments of citizens in its drafting of ordinances, but there has not been an analysis or any proof of that claim.
This section of the website has helped meet some of the goals of the website as a whole. Transparency is achieved by showing citizens the suggested proposals and ordinances. E- participation and open government are achieved because citizens are participating online in the legislative process. Citizens may be empowered by their ability to participate in drafting the rules that will govern them.
 Peña-López, I. (2017). Citizen participation and the rise of the open source city in Spain. Retrieved from https://itforchange.net/mavc/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Research-Brief-Spain.pdf
 Dejohn, S. (2017 November 13). Beyond Protest: Examining the Decide Madrid Platform for Public Engagement. Retrieved from http://thegovlab.org/beyond-protest-examining-the-decide-madrid-platform-for-public-engagement/
 Involve. (n.d.). Decide Madrid. Retrieved from https://www.involve.org.uk/resources/case-studies/decide-madrid
Cantador, I., Bellogín, A., Cortés-Cediel, M. & Gil, O. (2017). Personalized recommendations in e-participation: Offline experiments for the 'Decide Madrid' platform. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319043361_Personalized_recommendations_in_eparticipation_Offline_experiments_for_the_%27Decide_Madrid%27_platform
CONSUL Project. (n.d.) CONSUL. Retrieved from http://www.consulproject.org/en/
Decide Madrid. (2018 June 19). Comentarios a la Ordenanza de Movilidad. Retrieved from https://decide.madrid.es/legislation/processes/49/draft_versions/13/annotations?locale=en
The original submission of this case entry was written by Alexis Pinkston, a Master of Public Service candidate at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. The views expressed in the current version are those of the authors, editors, or cited sources, and are not necessarily those of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.