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Lapid: does he have what it takes to stay the course?

Is Yair Lapid a young thruster who changed the face of Israeli politics by challenging the old order, or is he a hopeless dreamer whose utopian agenda will come a cropper in the harsher realities of defending the nation state?

As the wrangling goes on this weekend to create a workable coalition government, the dapper 49-year-old from Tel Aviv is the object of some heavy-duty courting from his main rivals who need the seats and a dose of Lapid's undoubted charisma to reinforce their own ambitions.

Because Yesh Atid is very much Lapid's personal creation everything will depend on how he reacts to the offers, and how much his suitors are prepared to adapt their own beliefs to his way of thinking. This will not be easy.

During the election his slogan was: "We've come to change things," and party associates insist that easy slogan covers most of his political attitudes. His manifesto included a wide range of social changes which could see the introduction of a more inclusive form of politics, as well as policies for more affordable housing and lower fuel charges.

This played well with the younger generation who were tiring of Binyamin Netanyahu's conservative policies. They also warmed to Lapid's mantra that talks with the Palestinians are the only way towards the goal of creating a two-state solution. But away from the obvious good intentions there are some doubts about Lapid's ability to stay the course and survive in the hurly-burly of Israeli politics.

Older voters particularly are worried about a perceived flakiness in his foreign policy. He has had little to say about Iran and the nuclear threat, and defence of the homeland is still the bedrock of Israeli politics.

For Lapid, the trick is going to be how to achieve his aims without compromising his deepest beliefs and the hopes that have been invested in him by a younger generation of Israeli voters. No doubt he will remember the fate of his father Tommy Lapid, another journalist-turned-politician whose Shinui Party blazed briefly in the 1999 election but fell to earth six years later.

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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