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In recent years, German parties have tried out all of these approaches — and, for the most part, they’ve found that co-optation doesn’t work. For example, Markus Söder, head of the Christian Social Union and Bavarian prime minister, learned this lesson the hard way when his party experienced historic losses in the 2018 Bavarian elections. To recapture AfD voters, Söder had styled himself as an immigration hard-liner. After this strategy backfired, he embraced more moderate positions, acknowledging that the co-optation strategy led to a “political near-death experience.”