ERS Cymru survey reveals "shocking and disturbing" abuse figures
Razor blades are among some of the "disturbing" things welsh politicians have been sent in the mail according to new research.
266 welsh MPs AMs and councillors responded to the The Electoral Reform Society Cymru's survey - with just under half admitting they have suffered harassment or abuse.
Women in office made up 54% of the stats with 40 saying they have received abuse online.
One politician told the survey they were sent excrement in a valentine's card they received through the post.
ERS Cymru said harassment is one of the barriers putting people off entering politics.
16 recommendations are being made by ERS Cymru to remove barriers to diverse political representation, including putting in place gender quotas, a requirement on Welsh political parties to develop a joint code of conduct around intimidatory behaviour and better processes by social media companies for those wishing to report abuse.
Featured in the report are harrowing examples of abuse and harassment in politics including individuals who reported being sent excrement through their letter box, and another who said they had opened a letter filled with razor blades.
In addition to abuse and harassment, the reality of being a politician was found to be a barrier to better representation with the implications on family life being a major factor, particularly for councillors who often have to balance part or full time jobs with their duties in addition to caring for family members.
The financial implications of becoming a candidate were also found to be prohibitive to many who might consider standing.
Commenting on the report, Jess Blair, ERS Cymru Director, said:
“This report offers a shocking account of the realities of being a politician in Wales. Some of the abuse faced by elected representatives is appalling.
“That over half of female politicians who took part in our report have said they have been abused in office is horrifying. Given this it’s no wonder that many people look at politics and think it's not for them.
“We need to look at modernising our institutions and work with parties to identify and develop a more diverse set of candidates. Alongside this we also need to take the levels of abuse and harassment that politicians are facing seriously, and create a set of responses that can more effectively deal with this.
“We hope that this report acts as a wakeup call for political parties, institutions and even social media companies.
"Our recommendations are varied and may make uncomfortable reading for many parties who currently take little action on diversity, yet we believe they are necessary to create a politics in Wales that better reflects the population”.