ANKARA, June 10 (Xinhua) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's defiance against nationwide anti-government protests may not affect his leadership, but could be costly for the nation in terms of economic losses and increased political polarization.
"It is obvious that Erdogan wants to mobilize its troops ahead of three consecutive elections next year by hardening his position on protests that had already lost its steam since it started almost two weeks ago," said Ali Aslan Kilic, a long-time Ankara- based political observer.
"This may however cost the country with economic losses and disturb social peace," he told Xinhua.
The standoff between the government and the opposition has already rattled the financial markets, sending the stock exchange index in Istanbul to dive 10.5 percent on a single day last week.
Meanwhile, the Turkish lira has weakened against the U.S. dollar while borrowing costs for government have shot up with interest rates hike.
Erdogan signaled on Sunday that investigators would go after what he called "interest lobby" to fight back with speculators in the stock market to stem the wave of sell-offs.
"Those who tried to crash the stock market without any shame: Tayyip Erdogan doesn't have money in the stock market, it will be you who will crash," the prime minister warned.
Economists are not so sure on government claims and blame Erdogan for mishandling the protests that led to stock market losses. "When you mismanage a country, an economy, then this is the result you get," said Seyfettin Gursel, an economist at Bahcesehir University.
He said the government's stubbornness to go ahead with development plans in Istanbul in the face of demonstrations escalated the crisis.
The government has apologized for initial reaction with tear gas and water cannons to disperse a peaceful crowd who wanted to keep Istanbul's Taksim Gezi Park from bulldozing. The protests were later hijacked by extremist groups and devolved into violence, vandalism and destruction of properties.
Over the weekend, Erdogan has kept highlighting the violent nature of the protests to consolidate his voters behind the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which is still the most popular one in Turkey.
The AK Party leadership decided over the weekend to hold two major rallies in Istanbul and Ankara on behalf of the government as a show of power and solidarity that are intended to neutralize the ongoing anti-government protests.
"Confrontational politics may get a party and a leader to win elections," Dogu Ergil, professor of political science at Istanbul- based Fatih University, has said. "But the country hardly benefits if the feeling of solidarity is lost," he cautioned.
Turkey is predominantly a Sunni Muslim country, but also home to millions of other sectarian and ethnic minority groups, which makes its social fabric vulnerable to provocations and social unrest.
Hasan Kanbolat, director of Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies, said that protests tend to draw its support from neo- nationalist, leftist and Alevi communities in Turkey, which are not supporters of the AK Party anyway.
"The AK Party's electoral support may be affected by the Gezi Park process only if the party acts without due regard and thereby provokes further incidents," he said.