I've just added the tag to How do you explain Canada's Trudeau's power-sharing agreement to a five-year-old (American)?

Power sharing is an important and distinctive element of many (but obviously not all) forms of government, so I've also created the power-sharing tag and hope to explore this specific concept with several more questions.

So I'd like to ask for input on how to draft good usage guidance for the following two tags:

The power tag has no usage guidance, can you help us create it?

The power-sharing tag has no usage guidance, can you help us create it?

1 Answer 1


It's not clear, to me, that either or are necessary.

is normally in the context of political parties and could use the tag.

questions about political parties who work together to form a government

Compare (no usage) with .

Authority may be an appropriate tag in connection with the functions officially or de facto exercised, and whether or not such exercise of authority exceeds the constitutionally established power of that branch of government or leader. In addition to written laws that restrict a given branch, office, or political authority, there may be important, unofficial traditions or moral considerations beyond law that should restrict government powers.

While I have been aware of the possible conflict between and for some time. It isn't something I have yet examined. Until now!

Wikipedia, Authority, "This article is about authority as a political concept."

In the fields of sociology and political science, authority is the legitimate power of a person or group over other people. In a civil state, authority is practiced in ways such [as] a judicial branch or an executive branch of government.

In the exercise of governance, the terms authority and power are inaccurate synonyms. The term authority identifies the political legitimacy, which grants and justifies the ruler's right to exercise the power of government; and the term power identifies the ability to accomplish an authorized goal, either by compliance or by obedience; hence, authority is the power to make decisions and the legitimacy to make such legal decisions and order their execution.

Unfortunately, the Wikipedia article Power (social and political) is written from the social sciences perspective and does not clearly distinguish between power and authority in politics.

The term authority is often used for power that is perceived as legitimate or socially approved by the social structure.

For the purpose of tagging questions, should be used for questions about legitimate power exercised by government. While should be used when the question is about power exercised by individuals in government where the exercise thereof is by influence, persuasion, force or other means not, or that may not be, set forth in statutes or rules (not legitimate).

Thus How much power does Putin have in Russia? is a question. As is What powers does the speaker of the House of Representatives have?.

However, What governmental power does the Monarch hold in Great Britain in practice? is an question.

The implications of power are so broad that a precise usage may not be possible, therefore the proposed excerpt for :

Use when the [authority] tag is inappropriate.

While it is possible to provide a usage excerpt for , it still may not be useful as a tag.

Questions containing search terms in the title may be a better indicator.

  • 187 questions contain "power" in the title

  • 51 questions contain "authority" in the title ("palestinian authority" questions were excluded)

From What are tags, and how should I use them?,

A tag is a word or phrase that describes the topic of the question. Tags are a means of connecting experts with questions they will be able to answer by sorting questions into specific, well-defined categories.

Tags can also be used to help you identify questions that are interesting or relevant to you.

In this case, neither nor are useful for the intended purposes: "connecting experts with questions" and "identif[ing] questions that are interesting". Indeed, for both tags to be useful would require extensive effort and likely expansion to at least six tags.

  • I think that power and authority are pretty different in at least one way; in my mind authority is granted, power is taken.
    – uhoh
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 17:38
  • 1
    @uhoh - [authority] is a subset(?) of [power]. The US Constitution assigns legislative, executive and judicial power. One could view [authority] as "lawful power" (i.e., the US Constitution), while "unlawful or extra-legal power" might actually be [corruption], [crime], or some other tag. There may also be cases where the [power] tag is not necessary for the post, but was included due to mention in the post, the question being about something else. The [power] tag may not be useful, because it is too broad or easily misused.
    – Rick Smith
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 18:05
  • OK, I'll go along with that authoritative and powerful argument! :-)
    – uhoh
    Commented Mar 24, 2022 at 0:34

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