There can be only one
According to Devs, you do own it. This is why MMOs never allow two players with leader rank. This is why only the current leader can demote themselves and elevate another player to leader.
I am happy for you that this is true in your alliance’s situation. A happy family is a pleasant family.
Having been a chat mod/ forum mod for many years in other MMOs, your case of happy volunteers remaining silent is unusual. If a player is happy to be the leader, they speak up. If a player is happy to be the leader, the opposite problem is usually too many teammates want to be the leader.
Responsibility to my teammates
When I repeatedly ask for a volunteer, and no one volunteers, that is usually because they do not wants to volunteer. If I select an unhappy teammate, then I have just passed them the same decisions. If there are no volunteers, I feel it is my responsibility as a teammate to make the decision instead of forcing another teammate to make it in my place.
I am not even close enough to my significant other of 20+ years to make this kind of decision for her without consulting her first.
We have run an family of alliances in Book of Heroes. But I just do not know how she currently feels about Empires. Since we are close, and both play Empires, I would be concerned that the reasons I have decided to step down, also apply to her. Before the new owners bought Book of Heroes ( crosses fingers for update ), the game was dying. Slowly dealing with the closing down of each individual alliance in our alliance family as less and less players signed in was emotionally exhausting. I do not feel I could pass a possible burden of this magnitude to someone I cared about.
Dying alliances and burned out leaders
Especially since Empires has several mechanisms in place to deal with new alliances of high level players and one or more alliance merging.
Players may not agree with these mechanisms ( I am looking at you war matchmaking. and you war matchmaking. any you hiding in the corner - war matchmaking. Sorry Petri. No. Not sorry. Petri’s boss. Petri deserves a Pizza Party next Friday. Or whatever his schedule’s version of Friday ). But based on my past experience in MMOs, Small Giant Games has made the correct decision when it comes to dying alliance, burned out leaders, hacked accounts, and lost accounts.