What is the meaning and the function of 'as it has existed in practice' in below sentence?
'A criticism of democracy as it has existed in practice is that the power to vote for leaders is of peripheral importance in societies in which there are powerful vested interests that control the economy, the media, and other powerful areas.'
My questions are... 1. 'as it has existed in practice' is a clause that modifies the subject 'a criticism of democracy', right?
What is the meaning of that clause? (What does 'as' mean here? What does 'in practice' means?)
The clause can be eliminated and still mean the same thing?