Who would have thought that the title of the late Howard Zinn's renowned book would say so much about Turkey's political landscape? Over the past few years, the million dollar question of Turkish politics is related to where the Republican People's Party (CHP), the country's main opposition movement, stands on a range of deeply polarizing issues including the Kurdish reconciliation process.
At this point, hardly anyone has any uncertainties about the position of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on the matter: The party took a huge risk by investing large quantities of political capital into the seemingly impossible task of ending one of the bloodiest conflicts in the world by disarming the PKK through dialogue. In the end, the country's political leadership has managed to turn what once was a major liability into the crown jewel of its electoral platform. With the PKK's imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan's most recent call for a farewell to arms, the ruling party can comfortably position itself as the unrivaled source of peace, order and stability in a troubled region.
Similarly, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which represents an extension of the Kurdish political movement into parliamentary politics, has been highly supportive of the talks despite engaging in ardent criticism of the government in the media - which seems disingenuous given the party's thinly-veiled cooperation with the authorities within the context of the Kurdish reconciliation process. With the notable exception of a wave of violent street protests over the situation in Kobani, the Kurdish radicals have proved quite docile and predictable.
Although the Kurdish reconciliation process has traditionally enjoyed the support of a sizeable coalition cutting across class and ethnic lines, there has been no shortage of critics. At the Turkish Parliament, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has long resisted efforts to bring an end to the violent conflict, adopting a jingoistic rhetoric and pointing fingers, not always accurately, at those allegedly engaging in acts of treason. On more than one occasion, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been at the receiving end of harsh words and pointless accusations - including the claim that senior government officials were collaborating with terrorists.
What remains unclear is where the CHP stands on the Kurdish reconciliation process. Despite the party leadership's initial interest in giving dialogue a chance back in January 2013, it has been the understanding of most observers that the Republicans still have questions about the reconciliation process even though they would like to avoid bad blood with approximately 70 percent of voters who deeply care about the disarmament initiative. Generally speaking, party officials like to answer questions with more questions - including whether or not the AK Party, whom they claim to have taken an authoritarian turn, is really capable of bringing peace to Turkey.
In the coming weeks, when the ruling party will seek to cash its chips to win big on June 7, the main opposition party will have to answer some tough questions - the most difficult of which relates to what alternative they have developed to the disarmament talks other than big words and mind games. More importantly, it is the voters that demand an answer: The small number of CHP voters in the fringes want to hear a confession to shift their allegiances to the HDP with no agony. Meanwhile, the Kemalists, who continue to represent the mainstream within the party organization, desperately push for clear opposition to the initiative. With another election defeat around the corner, the time has come to pick sides for good.