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The Cardano Constitution: What are the next steps in the transition toward a decentralized governance framework?

Cardano is on the verge of a significant shift towards a more democratic and efficient governance framework. This December, it aims to finalize and ratify a permanent Cardano Constitution.

To prepare for this transition, Cardano implemented an interim period following the introduction of Cardano Improvement Proposal 1694 (CIP-1694). This interim period established from the beginning a set of temporary rules that function as both off-chain safeguards and technical limitations. In turn, these measures aim to ensure the network's integrity and security during its upgrade to a new era of on-chain governance.

Before the full transition, an interim Constitutional Committee (CC) will be established to oversee a smooth and secure upgrade process. This document outlines safeguards specifically designed to protect the network during the "Chang upgrade" and the subsequent bootstrapping period.

Cardano Constitution Consultation Period

The Constitutional Committee consists of seven members with one-year terms. Currently, four entities – IOG, the Cardano Foundation, EMURGO, and Intersect – hold seats on the committee. However, three positions remain open for applications from the Cardano community. The application period closed on Monday, but the voting period will be open until June 23rd. The results will be confirmed on June 26th.

“It's profoundly humbling to see how many qualified people are running for the interim constitutional committee. It's a remarkable sign of the quality and strength of the Cardano community and its commitment to decentralization, good governance, and being the best blockchain in our industry.” –Cardano Founder Charles Hoskinson, via X.

Cardano Interim Constitution Committee: Key Principles

The primary responsibility of the Interim CC is to ensure all decisions adhere to the interim Cardano Constitution, which serves as the framework for collective decision-making within the network. Additionally, all CC members must hold ADA, demonstrating their stake in the Cardano community and enabling participation in on-chain voting. 

Aligning with Cardano's on-chain governance model (CIP-1694), the Interim CC prioritizes open and transparent decision-making processes. This includes publishing minutes of regular meetings. Regular communication is expected from the CC, and the committee may publish written justifications for accepting or rejecting proposals, ensuring clear communication of their reasoning. Committee members are responsible for staying up-to-date on issues impacting the network. 

Interim CC Timeline

Currently, CC members are not compensated. However, Intersect provides administrative support to cover expenses like communication, technical and legal support, and education & training. The possibility of future remuneration through community discussion remains open.

Next Step: Constitutional Workshops 

The following stage of  the process of developing the Cardano Constitution involves hosting Constitutional Workshops globally and gathering feedback from members of the Cardano community in every corner of the world. This feedback will be incorporated and considered during the Constitutional Convention. Here, designated representatives, known as Constitutional Delegates, will have the opportunity to review and potentially approve the proposed Constitution.

Following the Constitutional Convention, a crucial step will be the on-chain ratification. If this on-chain vote is successful, the newly created Cardano Constitution will be officially adopted. This permanent document will then supersede the currently implemented Interim Constitution.

The upcoming workshops provide a platform for the Cardano community to have their voices heard and influence the final form of the Constitution. After thorough review and community approval, the new Constitution will replace the temporary one, marking a significant step forward for Cardano's governance framework.

As the Cardano Constitution nears its finalization, a consultation period will be held to gather input from the community before its on-chain ratification in early 2025. To facilitate this process, two key entities will play important roles: the Cardano Civics Committee and Intersect.

The former will contribute by providing input on a new draft of the Constitution, ensuring that it reflects current needs. Equally important, the Cardano Civics Committee will define the process for Constitutional Workshops, which will be crucial for selecting delegates who will attend the Constitutional Convention in Buenos Aires later this year. 

In turn, Intersect will be working closely with Cardano community members and guided by the Civics Committee, playing a supportive role during the consultation process. Their primary aim is to ensure a diverse range of perspectives from the global Cardano ecosystem are captured in the final document, by supporting those interested in hosting a Constitutional Workshop and facilitating grants to encourage participation. 

The consultation period will run between August 1st and October 15th, 2024. By facilitating these workshops and encouraging community participation, the goal is to ensure the final Cardano Constitution reflects the needs and voices of its diverse ecosystem composed of global users.

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