ANKARA, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's defying stance on the recent anti-government protests means that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) banks on mobilizing its support base ahead of three major elections, analysts say.
"He seeks to ensure that the mass support for the protests declines as they turn violent. This is a correct calculation on his part," said Mumtazer Turkone, an expert on Turkish politics.
That is in fact what happened in the course of the week-long protests which started peacefully at Istanbul's Gezi Park, to save the nearly century-old trees. The environmental rally quickly evolved into nationwide anti-government protests as extremist and violent groups blend in the demonstrations. The authorities have reported vandalism, arson, robbery and destruction of public and private properties during the protests.
The initial broad support to the protests wound down as the police started to crack down on protesters with riot control vehicles and pepper spray. Officials said at least 115 police officers and 58 protesters were injured in the clashes between policemen and demonstrators.
"He (Erdogan) wants to politicize his supporters against these protests," Turkone said.
The mobilization of Erdogan's own supporters may help AK Party to fare in local elections slated for March 2014. It will also help him get elected as the president of the country in the election of 2014's summer. Then, the parliamentary elections are set for 2015.
"We have seen the similar scenario ... in 2007 when thousands of people took the streets to demonstrate against the AK Party government," Idris Gursoy, an Ankara-based analyst, told Xinhua.
"It was backfired and the AK Party was able to increase its votes from 34 percent in 2002 to 47 percent in 2007," he said.
The harsh rhetoric invoked by opposition parties, backed by the then-powerful military, in 2007 played into hands of the AK Party that successfully appealed to senses of millions of voters.
On Monday, Erdogan again dismissed street protests against his rule as actions organized by extremists, describing them as a temporary blip, while signalling no intention to soften his position toward protesters.
Erdogan, a veteran politician who never shied away from picking a fight with his opponents, feels comfortable against the background of successful economy and well-functioning social, health and educational system. The government, unlike its peers in Europe, is not under pressure from any major economic crisis.
"The fact that he did not postpone his long-planned overseas trip to North African countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia is an indication that he feels comfortable enough to not yield to demands from protesters," political analyst Mesut Cevikalp told Xinhua.
"He thinks he can weather this wave of protests as demonstrations turn violent," he said.
AK Party still enjoys huge popularity in Turkish public opinion polls that hover around 50 percent.
"Erdogan is a comeback kid," Gursoy said, referring to his ascendance to power in the government after his imprisonment in 1999 for reading a poem at a political rally. His conviction came two years after an unarmed military intervention on Feb. 28, 1997.
His newly established AK Party came into power in 2002 with a landslide victory, followed by elections wins in 2007 and 2011.
He had beaten once-powerful Turkish military and pushed them back to own barracks. He also sustained a lawsuit challenge mounted by the chief public prosecutor to shut down AK Party in the Constitutional Court case in 2008.