The intra-party elections of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz have come to a conclusion, and it comes as no surprise that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif retains the position of President within the party (a position he has held since the party’s inception). This was hardly ever a contest; only one PML-N lawmaker was brave enough to stand against the older Sharif brother, but for unexplained reasons, his nomination papers were rejected, and our Prime Minister won unopposed.

He was not the only one either; his brother, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was also re-elected as the party’s Punjab President unopposed. Judging by the fact that all ten important positions of the party were won with only one candidate for each slot (granting victory by default), the elected representatives of the ruling party do not seem to enjoy contesting elections all that much.

PML-N is led by one man alone; the inclusion of ‘Nawaz’ in the party’s name is a dead giveaway. Voters know what they are getting when they vote for anyone on the PML-N ticket. The representative will have to defer to the wishes of one of the Sharifs if they are to retain their party membership. The Sharif brothers see no reason to relinquish control when no one in the party seems to openly want to oppose them.

But maybe they are mistaking fear for blind loyalty. The reason the rank and file continues to follow the brothers is because they see no other option. Everything PML-N does automatically has the name or face of either Sharif on it. Representatives looking to make a name for themselves cannot do so under their shadow. Nawaz Sharif’s daughter has referred to it as ‘Brand Nawaz Sharif’ and it is easy to see why; everything from foreign policy to the food service in PIA’s premium planes is accredited to the Prime Minister. No matter what happens, even senior members of the party such as Chaudhry Nisar and Sartaj Aziz can never hope to take the reins.

And this is exactly why, from top to bottom, the politics of the PML-N (and every other major political party) are completely muddled. Any drive the workers have is drained out of them, through the lack of opportunities to grow or because both Sharifs have the final say on any and everything.

Why does the ruling party even bother with the elections exercise if ten or more of its office bearers are going to get elected unopposed? The answer is simple, because the Election Commission of Pakistan forced them to do so. But this is fooling no one; there is a reason we have seen Nawaz Sharif take the Prime Minister’s seat a record three times. The stagnation of politics in the mainstream is a result of the lack of change at the very top of the political ladder. In their quest to accumulate and retain power, the older crop of politicians is causing the demise of politics in the younger generations.