After their failed attempt to turn Plaza Podemos into a real engine for the development of Podemos’ political program Arana and other tech activists such as Pablo Soto and Yago Bermejo Abati joined the electoral platform of Ahora Madrid, which managed to win the 2015 city elections through a highly participated, citizen-driven political process known in Spain as the confluencia, which Arana briefly discusses in the third part of this interview.
Since September 2015 Arana has been in charge of Decide Madrid the city participation portal, which has over 300.000 registered users. Through this website citizens can propose their own initiatives, engage in collaborative legislation, and vote on participatory budgeting projects for which the City has allocated €100 million in 2017 alone. As I previously reported, the first binding city referendums based on the new system were held in February 2017, and were a mixed bag of citizen initiatives and consultations that were launched by the city.
The two citizen initiatives on making Madrid 100% sustainable and the introduction of integrated ticketing for public transportation were based on proposals that passed the 1% support threshold an initiative must collect on Decide Madrid in order to be put through a city referendum. Because Madrid has 2.7 million eligible voters, the two proposals were initially backed by 27.000 city residents. It is Arana himself and his colleagues that have set this threshold after they had tried to introduce it without success in Podemos.