The two main rivals for the Romanian presidency have clashed in a televised debate. Incumbent Traian Basescu launched a scathing attack on his challenger Mircea Geoana, accusing the Social Democrat leader of dishonesty.He said Geoana would take the country back into an ugly past of corruption and scandal: “It is essential for Romanians to have a president who fights for them and, if necessary, a president who fights the sharks of the Romanian economy, who defies parliamentary majorities that do not work for the people, but for themselves.” Opinion polls show Geoana in the lead with 52 to 54 per cent of the vote compared to Basescu’s 46 to 48 per cent. Geoana said Basescu had nothing left to offer his country: “He is now back to a rhetoric of hate, to personal attacks and he invents false allegations about the past. I am a man of the future, I am a modern politician, I have nothing to hide and together, with my team behind me, I will do better for this country.” The winner of the run-off vote – scheduled for Sunday – faces an uphill struggle to end a prolonged political crisis that has delayed aid from the International Monetary Fund. He will also have to appoint a prime minister capable of regaining a parliamentary majority and pushing forward economic reforms.