In the first part of this article, I argued that rather than bringing to a head the important issues facing our country, the proximity of the general election is slowing down progress, deflating interest, and generally chilling the passions they have, in the past, inflamed.

Here are 6 examples of what I mean by important issues.

Joseph Muscat’s house has been searched by the police on the order of a magistrate conducting a two-year long (so far) inquiry into the hospitals’ privatisation. In the meantime, the operators of the three hospitals, Steward, are throwing threatening hints that they may contribute to the search for truth in that case. The truth, they promise, is uglier than we imagine. Other senior people may be implicated including Konrad Mizzi the bad penny that features in any and every scandal from the last 10 years, the not-so-fond memory from our collective past called Chris Cardona, and Edward Scicluna who is nothing less than the governor of our Central Bank.

What’s happening right now? Hard to say, but the general election has a role in whatever it is that is going on. Steward are in this for the money, not for some heroic desire to uncover corruption. If there has been corruption they knowingly benefited from it which should mean that their preferred outcome is not having to live up to their threats and get what they want from the government in exchange for their renewed and complicit silence: money. More money. No better time to threaten a politician with embarrassing revelations than election season.

Something may be happening with the inquiry as well. For all we know the police found evidence of wrongdoing in those searches in Joseph Muscat’s house. Or, for all we know, they had it even before they looked for it there. Under normal circumstances that would bring about arrests, arraignments, charges, and prosecution. Except, it takes a bold police officer or inquiring magistrate to be indifferent to accusations of politically-motivated persecutions, which Joseph Muscat and Robert Abela have been explicitly making. An election is coming. Would it surprise you if the investigators and prosecutors waited for the election to be done with before they went ahead and did their job or prosecuting major players in the political game?

Second example. If James Carville is right, and he probably is, it’s the economy, stupid. In that case, not even the hypothetical arrest of senior figures in the 2017 Labour Party campaign may make a dent on the prospects of senior figures in the 2022 campaign. But inflation would and we’re facing some seriously dramatic shifts in consumer prices of very, very essential products. No one in this country is unaffected by a doubling of the cost of spaghetti. The only difference is whether your Bolognese is eating into the hefty bills you sent the Planning Authority before you became prime minister, or your minimum wage.

Two or three more months like this and people will find their weekly supermarket spree is eating into luxuries they have long stopped to wonder if they could afford.

For a short while the government can survive that, spraying borrowed money like bread bought on credit by the emperor and showered on the crowds at the circus. The operative word in that sentence is ‘short’. It will get shorter when the real impact of Electrogas’s happy deal with the government kicks in when the hedged fixed price period kicks out. Someone is going to have to pay Electrogas for the energy we are committed to buy from them, even if we can get it for cheaper from elsewhere. That’s bound to be fun but we don’t have to think about it until after the election.

Speaking of Electrogas, here’s a third example. If you think about it long enough, it’s not just the economy though, is it? Konrad Mizzi has been finding creative, yet distinctly unimpressive ways of avoiding tough questions on his conduct in that rotten deal for some four months now. At some point he’ll run out of filibustering techniques and medical certificates and he’ll have to sit there and either commit very public political seppuku on the eve of an election he is not running for or flatly refuse to answer questions, the answers to which would, by his own implicit admission, incriminate him.

That’s not just a problem for Konrad Mizzi. The recognition of the fact that the Electrogas contract was secured through corruption will provoke its dissolution and will justify claims of compensation by those who paid for the consequences of its evil, that’s anyone who doesn’t use kerosene to light their kitchen. Or, to keep this in context, anyone voting in the next election.

Reassuringly for the government we don’t have to think about any of this before the next election. In fact, nobody is.

Nor is anybody thinking about my fourth example. The first take-home lesson that should be coming out of the separation of Air Malta from 50% of its body is that Labour, no matter what its leaders promise and no matter what its followers choose to believe, is not capable of conjuring miracles.

Here’s the real lesson: cronyism, corruption, favours and jobs for the boys, and providing Karl Stagno Navarra with a sinecure in exchange for cheap, slanderous and hate-filled propaganda has the same consequence under the stewardship of a government of Malta’s Labour Party as it would anywhere else: disastrous job losses. In our case, an island with a native travelling population which is alone way too small to sustain a commercial air operation that meets the country’s expectations, the catastrophe is of an epochal scale.

No matter. Until the election we can book our weekend breaks on the, so far, ever dependable Ryanair. They’re not likely to lose interest in the next few weeks.

If we can ignore what’s obviously painful – your grocery shopping bills, for a start – its marvellously easy to ignore what you don’t know is killing you, my fifth example. Using the word “grey-listed” in a sentence gets you a glazed look and emphatic blinking as your interlocutor struggles to remember the meaning of a foggily familiar piece of slang from a forgotten past. Grey-listing? Remind me, what’s that then?

Oh, only what’s stopping any potential investor and job creator who is not being chased out of their country by investigators and financial regulators from choosing to set up in Malta. We are reassured by the chairman of the financial services authority that legit businesses operating here have not upped sticks in panic when grey-listing hit us. But even he admits he would not invest in Malta while it was grey-listed which must mean he is not expecting anyone else to do so either.

You won’t realise the impact of that by the next election. You can’t. It’s the economy, stupid. And one thing about the economy is that the prosperity of tomorrow depends entirely on the momentum secured today. For better or worse we are addicted to growth. And we’re not getting any of that.

And my sixth example takes us back to little old me and the rest of us for whom life has changed so much and so late four years ago. This country killed a journalist, because it tolerated – nay, preferred – corruption; because it thought women should keep their place and shut up when the men are talking; because it glorified criminals in power; because it ignored the infiltration of international organised crime deep into the state; because it branded journalists as enemies of the people and allowed them to face alone the risks of retribution from criminals and sundry fanatics; and so on.

And where are we today? It’s still a country that prefers corruption, shuts women up, worships Joseph Muscat, denies the existence of the mafia, and allows journalists to fend for themselves in a sea of trouble.

For four years that was the issue, the cause, the mission, that filled our existence. And now, on the eve of a general election, it feels like a good time to pause and wait for the turning of the next corner before the cause is taken up again with whatever earnestness we can muster.

That tells me one thing which is sadder than anything I’ve realised since that hot Monday afternoon of 16 October 2017. No one right now, in this country we imagined was a democracy, thinks a general election is an opportunity to start fixing the country’s problems.

Whatever is important to you: whether the righteous desire to have justice served on everyone equally; whether it is the reasonable fear that you won’t afford to keep up the standard of living you are used to or, if that is not your problem, your concern for people who earn less in a month than you spend in a week of groceries; whether it is because you are concerned with the comical inadequacy of the country’s administrators blundering their way between a €2 million black-tie jamboree they call a film awards night to the apparently interminable but secretly very fatal agony of Air Malta; whether all you are asking for is justice to be served on the killers of Daphne Caruana Galizia … whatever it is that matters for you, you do not think or you do not feel that the democratic ritual of casting your ballot can make a smidgen of a difference.

No wonder you don’t feel Christmassy yet.