ATHENS (Reuters) - Most Greeks view the far-right Golden Dawn party as a criminal organisation, according to a poll published on Friday that found the party had shed almost half of its support since its leader and lawmakers were arrested.

Party leader Nikolaos Mihaloliakos, five senior lawmakers and dozens of party members were arrested on September 28 on charges of belonging to a criminal group in a crackdown that followed the killing of an anti-racism rapper by an avowed Golden Dawn supporter and a spate of attacks on migrants.

Mihaloliakos and two fellow lawmakers were sent to jail pending trial while three other MPs were freed with orders to not leave Greece.

The poll by VPRC for the website, conducted in two rounds on September 25 and Sept 30-Oct 3, found support for Golden Dawn stood at 8.5 percent, down from 14.5 percent in July.

A majority of 68 percent believe Golden Dawn is a criminal organisation, the survey showed.

Police have found unlicensed weapons and Nazi memorabilia in searches of the homes of arrested members but the party, whose emblem resembles a swastika, rejects the neo-Nazi label.

Golden Dawn, which won over many Greeks angry at traditional parties over the country's economic collapse, record unemployment and a rise in crime, remains the third most popular political force.

It is still more popular that the once-mighty Socialist Pasok party, junior partner in Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' coalition government, which has just 7 percent support, according to the poll.

The anti-bailout opposition leftist Syriza topped the poll with 29.5 percent support while Samaras's conservative New Democracy party stood at 29 percent.

Golden Dawn won 18 seats in parliament in elections last year with about 7 percent of the vote after being relatively unknown for years.

The party says it is a victim of a politically-motivated witch hunt by the government to rob it of votes.

(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Paul Taylor)


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