There is a tour that cannot be booked through any travel agency, not even through the SPD travel service. You can book excursions to the founding places of German social democracy or a train trip through the Swiss Alps, you can book the Viking tour, a large SPD summer cruise along the coasts of Denmark, Norway and Scotland or a SOZIRIDER motorcycle trip through four countries – but not the tour that everyone is talking about, the mother of all tours, so to speak, the Ochsentour.

The oxen tour is included in the membership and has nothing to do with a holiday on a farm. The ox tour is not a recreational trip, not even a short trip, it can last years, even decades, most people never get there, they give up on the way because they lack fitness and will or because they simply didn’t dress warmly enough.

The furthest destination of the ox tour is, spatially speaking, not even that far away – at least for me. I live in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg. According to Google Maps, it only takes me 26 minutes to get to Willy-Brandt-Straße by bike. 6.7 kilometers are shown and only slight hills. No mountains as high as the Himalayas, not even as high as Kilimanjaro. And yet, I can already say that, I will never achieve this goal. I will only make it to the Federal Chancellery as a visitor, but not as Chancellor. Because, unlike Comrade Olaf, I am not cut out for the oxen tour.

In October 2003, the young journalist Nicol Ljubic joined the SPD. He then wrote the book “Comrade Offspring” about his first year. How I wanted to change the world.” Like so many others, he became a dead file. Now, 20 years later, he asks himself: Is there still something going on between the two of us?

It even has its own Wikipedia entry: “The term Ochsentour describes the often arduous course of a politician’s career, especially his party career – ‘the run through local and district associations, municipal and city councils.’ This begins at the local level with the takeover of smaller ones Party offices – mostly in the parties’ youth organizations. These are followed by municipal areas of responsibility and positions. Later, with success and perseverance, more important political positions will be awarded.”

The Ochsentour, which I also learned from Wikipedia, is an ironic term attributed to Otto von Bismarck. But it has long been a widely used synonym for: “You can’t achieve anything anyway, save yourself the frustration and do something sensible.” I would say that anyone who is thinking about joining a party will be in front of it Ox tour warned. And from the sound of it, there are hardly any worse tours, maybe a summer beer bike ride through Berlin.

But then, at my first department meeting, a comrade who has been there for a long time tells me that times have changed and that the ox tour might not be so bad after all. “You’ll see,” he says, “if you really want to get involved, you can do it very quickly with an office.” Shortly afterwards, the regular elections will take place and I learn from the announcement email that there are a variety of opportunities to take responsibility of and for the SPD-Bötzowviertel or other committees of the SPD. “You are all cordially invited to stand for election and take part in the elections.”

Should I stand for election? The last time I ran for office was 36 years ago, in 9th grade. At that time I became deputy class representative. A position that didn’t really change my life. I had to go to school anyway. But how much time and effort will party office cost me? What will happen to me? I don’t know it. But if I’m serious about my commitment, then it also includes taking responsibility. So I announced at the department meeting that I could imagine becoming an assessor on the department board and a KDV delegate.

KDV stands for district delegate assembly, it meets in Pankow three to four times a year, all departments send their representatives to discuss and vote on proposals. In principle, they are state party conferences at the district level. And if I want to change something, then the normal way is: write a motion and find a majority in the KDV. I am also told that the KDV offers a good insight into political party work. And that’s what I want to do: learn politics from the ground up.

On election night, more people come to the department meeting than ever before: 24 members crowd the room. There are pastries and drinks on the table. First, a meeting leader is elected and then, in various secret voting rounds, the department chairmen and their deputies, a cashier, a secretary, the assessors, a senior representative and an internet representative, and then the district delegates. The quotas must be taken into account in every election. All in all the evening will last three hours. What’s astonishing to me is that there won’t be a single candidacy because ultimately everyone who stands for election will be elected. I as well.

This will also be the case a week later at the Migration and Diversity Working Group, for which I am registering. In Pankow there are ten different working groups that are open to every member: including a work group, an education group, an acceptance and equality group and a group against right-wing extremism. I am particularly interested in the topic of migration, not only because it is currently being discussed so heatedly, but also because I have a father who immigrated and I grew up with people asking me where I came from and because of my last name where I learned German so well.

At the end of election week, I will hold four offices. In my department I am an assessor on the board and a KDV delegate; in the AG Migration and Diversity I am also an assessor on the board and a delegate to the state delegate conference. As a result, I have been added to four new WhatsApp groups and will have a few more appointments in my calendar in the coming weeks. Especially on Saturdays. Because the board meetings and delegate conferences apparently always take place on Saturdays. I will have to cancel a trip with my girlfriend that I have been planning for a long time and will miss some Werder games. I will simply have less time. And I feel that in the future I will often have to weigh up between private pleasure and party work.

But the good thing is: If at some point I’m so exhausted that I need a vacation, I can contact the SPD travel service and, for example, book a two-week sun cruise on the Nile for 1,749 euros. At least in terms of price, the Ochsentour is unbeatable. The membership fee depends on income. In this respect, the ox tour costs me 241.32 a year, which is 20.11 a month. I couldn’t even ride a beer bike for an hour: it costs 30 euros per person.