After serving for 29 years as the mukhtar (village and neighborhood head) of Asmacık, a village nestled in Afyon's Sandıklı district, 67-year-old Ahmet Coşar is vying for his seventh consecutive term in Turkey’s upcoming local elections scheduled for March 31.
Since Coşar’s initial victory with 60 votes in 1994, Asmacık has witnessed severe population decline due to migration to neighboring villages. This has left Asmacık with a mere voting pool of 15 eligible voters from 7 different households, who are mainly engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry.
"Last time we had 14 voters, but 1 villager changed his address to vote here. I heard that he will be my opponent in the mukhtar election. 5 of the voters are from my family," Coşar told the state-run Anadolu Agency.
"In 2014, my opponent withdrew, and I received the 14 votes. In the 2019 election, I had an opponent and I was elected mukhtar with 8 votes," he said, adding that if elected this will be his last term due to old age.
During his nearly three-decade tenure, Coşar oversaw several developments in Asmacık, including the introduction of drinking water supply and cobblestone roads.
In Turkey's local administrative setup, muhktars serve as intermediaries between local communities and municipal authorities, as well as other public bodies.
Mukhtars are elected every five years via the local elections, with political parties prohibited from nominating candidates.
In the 2019 local elections, over 50,000 mukhtars were elected countrywide, with only 1,122 being women.
(English version by Wouter Massink)