Published Thursday, 01 September 2011
Figures released by the Electoral Commission reveal the Ulster Unionist Party spent more than £96,000 and secured just 16 seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly election in May.
At the last Assembly election in 2007, the party spent almost £75,000 and returned 18 seats.
The figures also show Sinn Féin had the lowest spend of the big four parties and gained one seat, giving the party 29 MLAs and Martin McGuinness another term as Deputy First Minister.
While the DUP spent £84,000 overall and have 38 MLAs, a gain of two from the 2007 Assembly election.
The SDLP spent £38,000 on their 14 seats, despite also losing two from the previous election, in which the party spent more than £200,000 - the biggest campaign spend in the 2007 poll, where each seat cost almost £13,000.
In the run up to this year's election, the Alliance party spent £29,000 and the vote returned eight MLAs, an increase of one, despite an increase in spend of around £200.
Meanwhile the TUV spent more than the UUP on individual seats - with an outlay of more than £6,000 and only one seat returned for party leader Jim Allister.
Steven Agnew, Green Party MLA for North Down, was elected to the Assembly at a cost of £5,800.
The Progressive Unionist Party, which fielded leader Brian Ervine as an Assembly candidate, spent £310 on the campaign in East Belfast but Mr Ervine failed to be elected.
The Electoral Commission, which functions as an independent party funding watchdog, has detailed that 14 parties contested seats in the Assembly election, but only 13 submitted their campaign spending for the period between 6 January to 5 May 2011.
People Before Profit, which failed to have any members elected, has not returned their costing to the commission.
In a statement, the commission said: "Late submission of an expenditure return without reasonable excuse is a breach of party funding rules. The commission is now reviewing the circumstances of these cases in line with its enforcement policy."
(Correction: Green party leader Steven Agnew is a North Down MLA - and was not elected in South Down as previously stated.)