The SPD's unsuccessful candidate for chancellor, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has been elected as the leader of the party's parliamentary group. He replaces Peter Struck, who has retired from the Bundestag.
Steinmeier is the new SPD opposition leader in parliament
Steinmeier said, however, that he would not be a candidate for the party leadership. "It is my wish for the leadership of the party to rest on several shoulders," he said.
Steinmeier, who is outgoing foreign minister, led an election campaign against Chancellor Angela Merkel in national elections on Sunday, in which the SPD suffered its worst post-war election defeat.
The Social Democrats are now in for a major shake-up: party leader Franz Muentefering, 69, has indicated he would not seek re-election at the party's next congress in Dresden in mid-November. Secretary General Hubertus Heil also said he would not stand for re-election. Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said he was quitting as one of the party's three deputy chairs.
Since the extent of the SPD's defeat became evident on Sunday, the party's left-wingers have been demanding a rejuvenation of the party leadership.
The head of the city of Berlin chapter, Michael Mueller, criticized the speed with which Steinmeier announced he was ready to take on the position of heading the party's parliamentary group. He was qualified for the job, Mueller said, but: “I would have preferred that everyone had taken more time for personnel decisions.”
Editor: Michael Lawton