UUP were big losers under PR voting system, study shows
Ulster Unionists lost six seats from the former Assembly in the last election - despite a marginal increase in its voter share, new research has shown.
But the SDLP managed to hold on to its 12 seats, becoming the third largest party in the new Assembly, despite an actual, if minor, fall in its share of first preference votes.
The contrasting fortunes of the two main opposition parties of the last Assembly, and the vagaries of transfers under the proportional representation voting system, are revealed in an examination by the Assembly's research unit.
It also confirmed the Alliance Party benefited most, with a 50% increase in the number of first preference votes, and a voter share rise of over 2% to retain its eight seats in the Assembly now reduced from 108 to 90.
Sinn Fein received an additional 57,460 first preferences, a hike of 34.5% while the SDLP vote rose by 15.1%. The DUP got an extra 22,846 first preferences (a 11.3% rise) while the UUP had an additional 16,012 (18.3%).
Only 18 of the now 90 MLAs had a sufficient number of first preference votes to be elected at the first count. The remaining 72 then needed transfers and were elected at later stages.
Of the parties elected, the DUP took most transferred votes (26%) followed by the UUP (23%), SDLP (18%), Alliance (12%), Sinn Fein (10%), People Before Profit Alliance (3%), Green Party (3%) and TUV (2%).
Most of the UUP's transfers came from other UUP candidates (23%), the DUP (14%), SDLP (10% ) and Alliance (8%).
Most of the DUP's transfers came from other DUP candidates (32%), UUP (23%) and Alliance (13%).
Most of SF's transfers came from the SDLP (41%), other SF candidates (25 %), Alliance (7%) and People Before Profit Alliance (6%).