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Sánchez cuts short EU summit as Rubalcaba 'worsens'
ACTING president and PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez left the European Union summit in Sibiu, Romania an hour and a half before the end to take an emergency flight home after hearing the party's former leader and Spain's one-time deputy president, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba's condition had worsened.
The socialist's 'inspirational' former leader – who resigned after blaming himself for the party's disappointing results in the 2014 European elections – was admitted to the Puerta del Hierro Hospital in Majadahonda, Greater Madrid region, last night (Wednesday) at 19.15 after collapsing at his home in the town.
He had suffered a stroke and went directly to theatre where surgeons successfully cleared the blood clot which had caused his illness, and he was said to have passed a 'comfortable night', but was in a critical condition.
Around 16.00 this evening (Thursday) it was reported that his health had worsened, and Sánchez went straight to the airport, landing at the military base in Torrejón de Ardoz (Greater Madrid region) just before 20.00.
Sánchez was one of the first of Rubalcaba's friends and colleagues to reach the hospital, after regional PSOE leader for Catalunya Miquel Iceta and president of Asturias, Javier Fernández, both of whom are very close to the patient, plus acting interior minister José Luis Ábalos.
Ex-president of Spain José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who put Rubalcaba, his second-in-command, in charge of the party ahead of the November 2011 general election, also travelled to Majadahonda this afternoon, as did the country's hitherto longest-running president Felipe González, the man credited with helping Spain join the EU and making its presence felt in Europe, resulting in major overhauls in national infrastructure.
Former minister José Blanco and ex-president of Andalucía Susana Díaz, plus other major party figures including Jaime Lissavetzky, Valeriano Gómez, Antonio Hernando, Juan Moscoso, Óscar López, Cándido Conde Pumpido, José Enrique Serrano, Enrique Guerrero, and Javier Solana visited Rubalcaba this evening, and deputy secretary-general during Rubalcaba's time, Elena Valenciano, was reported to be travelling to Madrid at 18.00 and 'in permanent contact' with his family.
Acting ministers Adriana Lastra – PSOE spokeswoman in Parliament – Margarita Robles (defence), Isabel Celaá (education), María José Montero (treasury), and Fernando Grande-Marlaska (justice), who recalled earlier today during a conference in Bilbao his friend and colleague's 'magnificent' and 'intelligent' work in contributing to the end of ETA, the Basque terrorist organisation which caused thousands of deaths across Spain over nearly 40 years.
Cristina Narbona, who was Zapatero's environment and then health minister, said everyone was 'hoping for a miracle', and Susana Díaz said Rubalcaba was 'fighting the toughest battle of his life', whilst Miquel Iceta broke down in front of reporters, saying, “Alfredo is very, very ill. When I found out today, I was totally shaken up, because we love each other like brothers.”
Initially reported at around lunchtime today to be in an 'extremely serious' condition, Rubalcaba, 67, underwent a scan this evening which revealed his health had deteriorated.
His extensive network of lifelong friends through his political career are closely supporting the family, especially his wife Pilar, to whom he would have been celebrating 40 years of marriage this year.
Rubalcaba's friends and family say they are now 'expecting the worst'.
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