Shepherd recalls run for mayor .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ARDAHAN - Süleyman Demirel, an influential figure in Turkish politics since the 1960s who served as both prime minister and president, often mentions a time in his childhood when worked as a shepherd to show how people with the lowliest of beginnings can rise up to lead the country.

Now Turkey has an example of just the opposite situation. A budding politician in the eastern province of Ardahan has been forced to become a shepherd after incurring significant debt in his failed bid for the mayoral post in the Damal region in the March 29 local elections.

Mehmet Karadere, 33, a former livestock trader, decided to run as a candidate from the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, for the post of Damal mayor in the March elections. He said he incurred 20,000 Turkish Liras in debt while campaigning and now works with a friend as a shepherd to pay the money back.

"My current state is all because of politics," he said. "I was swept up by temptation and I decided to enter the elections. Of the 2,500 voters, only 22 voted for me. Right now, I am working as a shepherd in the region where I ran for mayor." Karadere said before entering politics he had a peaceful life and no money troubles.He also said AKP Ardahan deputy Saffet Kaya had encouraged him to enter politics.