California is not alone.

Every year in California it seems, there are legislative attempts to put new regulations on direct democracy. I’m not talking about the big redesign the California initiative process needs, so that it fits better with the rest of government. I’m talking about the little bills on higher filing fees and restrictions on signature gathering pay or requiring petition circulators to wear badges that have become perennials. These bills would merely raise the cost of direct democracy, thus making it even more exclusively the province of the rich. Few have gotten through here; indeed, the most recent legislation to pass on initiatives, the overhyped SB 1253, made a series of small improvements to the process.

In California, defenders of direct democracy have suggested there is a war against initiative and referendum here. But that criticism is too small. If there is such a war, it’s global.

I just spent a week in Tunisia, helping to preside over the 2015 Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, an every-two-years-or-so gathering of journalists, scholars, activists, election administrators and others whose work involves direct democracy. And the reports from around the world had one thing in common: the process faces new regulations and restrictions.

Looking around the U.S., dozens of bills to restrict the process have been passed in recent years. The result: fewer choices for voters. 2014 saw the lowest number of ballot initiatives on ballots since 1974.

Overseas, where direct democracy is now practiced in more than 100 countries, the story is similar.

In Latin America and Asia, I heard stories about citizens getting direct democracy enshrined in law or constitutions – only to see politicians make new powers impossible to use.

In Germany and European countries that have seen rapid expansion in direct democracy, there is now a backlash. Journalists and activists from Hamburg, Germany – site of great advances in ballot initiatives and citizen-created transparency laws – raised the alarm about politicians’ subtle but effective attempts to undermine citizen powers with various exemptions. A favorite tactic is to exempt a number of big, fundamental subjects from direct democracy. A speaker from Malta listed five kinds of initiatives that aren’t permitted there, including anything having to do with fiscal matters.

We also heard about Mexico, which established a national citizens’ right to initiative with Article 35 of its constitution three years ago. But earlier attempts to use that right have fallen flat. The Mexican Supreme Court threw out an initiative for a dignified wage for workers earlier this month.

How do politicians justify rolling back the process? Well, Californians, they often point to our state’s high-profile governance struggles, and our heavy of initiatives, as one reason to limit the process. So if we made our initiative process more flexible and integrated with government – if we got our act together – we might be saving more than the power of Californians. We could be protecting people power all over the world.