With classic good looks and a deep but even tone, Yair Lapid looks every bit the news anchor he was before he quit television to start a centrist party now projected to be Israel's second biggest faction.
Despite a privileged start in life, including a famous father with his own storied political career, Lapid's creation of the Yesh Atid party has seen him take on the mantle of defender of Israel's middle class.
The faction ran an economics-driven campaign, with a platform that aimed to appeal to secular Israelis without repelling Israel's religious communities and resonated well with an electorate that rates domestic issues its top priority.
Exit polls released by Israel's three main television stations showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud, running on a joint list with the hardline Yisrael Beitenu, winning 31 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, followed by Yesh Atid with 18-19 and Labour in third place with 17.
The far-right nationalist religious Jewish Home party, which had been widely expected to take second place, won 12 seats.
Lapid is the son of the fiercely secular former justice minister Yossef "Tommy" Lapid, another journalist who left the media to enter politics at the head of Shinui, a party which won 15 seats in 2003, but has since faded into obscurity.
The 49-year-old, who used to be a commentator with Israel's top-selling Yediot Aharonot and a presenter on Channel 2, announced exactly a year ago that he was planning to leave journalism to enter politics.
He named the party Yesh Atid -- Hebrew for "There is a future" -- and sought to build a party list that could attract a broad spectrum of Israel's fractious electorate.
He emphasised secularism -- though less aggressively than his father -- and the need for all Israelis to be able to earn a living wage, tapping into economic discontent that saw hundreds of thousands join protests in the summer of 2011.
Lapid has also campaigned on the need for a "sharing of the burden," calling for droves of ultra-Orthodox Israelis to serve in the military or perform national service, thereby becoming better integrated into society.
"We are not a centre-left party, we are a centre-centre party," he told the English-language Jerusalem Post earlier this month.
"We are the party of the Israeli middle class, the old fashioned tax payers who served in the army and afterwards worked hard all their life paying a high tax and see... that the cost of living is going up and up and there's no equality of burden with the other parts of Israeli society."
Though he describes himself as secular like his father, he told the paper Yesh Atid was "a very different initiative" from Shinui.
But he insisted he would not enter a government "as the figleaf of a coalition which is constructed of ultra-Orthodox and ultra-right and me."
Such a government would "isolate us from the international community and will be disastrous in terms of the economy," he said.
"I will do everything in my power to make sure this will not happen."
In keeping with a campaign focused on domestic issues, Lapid has rarely spoken about foreign policy challenges or the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but he has said he favours negotiations.
"Yesh Atid will not join a government that will not conduct diplomatic negotiations," he said in remarks quoted in Haaretz in October.
"You don't come to negotiations only with an olive branch, the way the left does, or only with a gun, the way the right does," he said in a speech at the Ariel settlement deep in the West Bank.
"You come to find a solution. We're not looking for a happy marriage with the Palestinians, but for a divorce agreement we can live with."
Though he comes from a powerful and educated family, Lapid never received a high school diploma.
He has been married twice, and has a son from the first marriage, as well as two children, including an autistic daughter, with his second wife Lihi.