Germany’s Social Democrats have launched a leadership shake-up after their defeat in the general election.For the first time in a decade the SPD is to become the opposition. Outgoing Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier, beaten by Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sunday’s poll, has been elected as the party’s parliamentary leader. Finance Minister Peter Steinbreuck, one of three SPD deputy leaders, has bowed out amid speculation Merkel may nominate him for a post at the European Commission or the Internationmal Monetary Fund. Outgoing Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel has emerged as the early favourite to replace the SPD chairman Franz Meuntefering who is stepping down after Steinmeier told party leaders he did not want to be considered for the job. Angela Merkel’s victorious conservatives will begin coalition talks with the business-friendly Free Democrats, the FDP on Monday, to determine the shape and policies of the new German government. The centre-right partners hope to seal a deal so they can begin work by the time the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, convenes on October 27.