Outwardly Madrid remained calm as the Spanish Head of State, General Franco, lay ill on Wednesday (22 October) following a heart attack the day before.
Outwardly Madrid remained calm as the Spanish Head of State, General Franco, lay ill on Wednesday (22 October) following a heart attack the day before. But on Friday (24 October) the man who has ruled Spain for nearly 40 years was said to be fighting for his life following a relapse.
A medical bulletin, signed by ten doctors who had been keeping a round-the-clock watch at the General's Pardo Palace, said that the Head of State had taken a turn for the worse and that "incipient signs of cardiac insufficiency" had appeared.
The relapse occurred on Thursday, and high officials immediately began urgent consultations, apparently centred on an early transfer of power to the General's designated successor, 37 year-old Prince Juan Carlos, the grandson of Spain's last king. Military sources said that, although Madrid was outwardly calm, the Army was on a state of minor alert with weekend leave cancelled and troops confined to their barracks.
The members of the Government were due to meet on Friday for their weekly Cabinet session, traditionally presided over by General Franco, but this was cancelled at the last minute. It was understood that the subject of transferring power to Prince Juan Carlos was to have been the top item on the agenda.
General Franco's illness comes at a time when Spain is facing a major crisis caused by a planned Moroccan march on its colony in the western Sahara. The Moroccan Foreign Minister, Mr. Ahmed Laraki, was expected in Madrid on Friday to hold last minute direct negotiations with the Spanish Government to avert a showdown.