Associate Professor Marco Buente

Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations
School of Arts and Social Sciences
+603 5514 6261
Room 2-6-17

Dr. Marco Bünte is an Associate Professor in the School of Arts and Social Sciences and Co-Director of the Multidisciplinary Research Platform “Global Asia in the 21st Century”. Dr. Bünte received his PhD at the University of Münster, Germany in 2002. After his PhD, Dr. Bünte spent 10 years in policy research with the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg, advising the German government on political developments in East and Southeast Asia. In 2013 Dr. Bünte joined Monash University Malaysia. In the past decade, he has been a visiting fellow at Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok), the Southeast Asia Research Centre (City University Hong Kong), the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (Jakarta), the Centre for Political Science and Research (Ceri) at Science Po (Paris) and Curtin University (Perth). Currently, he is also an Associate Senior Research Fellow at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg, one of the biggest and most important area studies centres in Europe. He has also taught at the universities of Göttingen, Hamburg, Helsinki, Kiel and Rostock.

Dr. Bünte is interested in broader questions of regime change and persistence, the role of social movements and civil society and human rights. Furthermore, he explores how certain institutions influence governance outcomes. In this respect, he has worked on constitutionalism, presidentialism, decentralisation and civil-military relations. His main research region is Southeast Asia. He has published two monographs, co-edited three volumes and written more than 100 articles and book chapters. In the past five years, Dr. Bünte has primarily analysed the political transformation in Myanmar. He has explored why and how the junta opened up to the outside world and with what effect. This work has been published in Asian Survey, Armed Forces and Society and the Journal of Contemporary Asia.

Dr. Bünte is the Chief Editor (with Andreas Ufen) of the Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs published by GIGA in Hamburg (and Sage). He is an Editorial Board Member of Contemporary Politics and the German Journal of Asian Studies. He has also advised government agencies, political foundations and civil society groups from a wide range of countries, such as Australia, Cambodia, China, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar. He regularly contributes to political debates in press outlets such as Financial Times, Deutsche Welle World.


PhD, Political Science (University of Münster, DE, 2002)

M.A., Political Science, History and English Literature (University of Münster, DE, 1998)

Professional Affiliations:

Membership in Academic Editorial Committees

  • Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, Editor (since 2008)
  • Contemporary Politics, Board Member (since 2014)

Member of Professional Bodies

  • German Association of Asian Studies, Speaker, Southeast Asia Group (2014 - 2019)
  • German Association of Asian Studies, Board Member (2008 - 2013)
  • Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI), Member of the Research Group (2013 - 2018)
  • American Political Science Association, Member (since 2010)
  • International Studies Association, Member (since 2010)
  • European Association of Asian Studies (EUROSEAS), Member (since 2010)

Research Interests

Dr Marco Bünte´s work revolves around broader questions of regime change and persistence, the role of political institutions (such as constitutions, local governments or militaries), social movements and human rights. In the last decade, he has started analysing the social forces of democratization and authoritarian resilience in Southeast Asia. In a research project that resulted in the publication of The Crisis of Democratic Governance in Southeast Asia (Palgrave 2011) he led a group of international scholars to look into the causes and consequences of democratization in Southeast Asia, comparing various themes such as political institutions, civil society, political parties, and political culture. In a case study, he and a group of scholars demonstrated that Indonesia`s successful democratization led to the establishment of a low-quality democracy despite far reaching democratic reforms. The study Democratization in Post Suharto Indonesia was published by Routledge in 2008.

In a comparative study on local governments in Southeast Asia Dr. Bünte also analysed whether local governments function as “schools of democracy” (in the Tocquevillean sense). He analysed the constraints and challenges for effective political decentralisation and the effects for a democratization on the local level. In a further research project, he looked at the effects of constitutions and the emerging constitutionalism in the region. Taking a distinctly political approach, he has demonstrated that there is a high degree of contestation among political actors. Several arenas of constitutionalism are particularly contested,  such as political institutions, the role of the military and human rights. The findings were published in the journal Contemporary Southeast Asia and, as an edited volume with Routledge in 2017: Constitutions and Politics in Southeast Asia (Björn Dressel).

In the past five years, Dr. Bünte has worked primarily on the reform process in Myanmar, the role of the armed forces, political parties and civil society. He has shown that the transition process has been completely guided, guarded and constrained by the armed forces. In a groundbreaking article (published in Armed Forces and Society), he has shown that the reforms were ultimately driven by internal factors (succession in the military leadership, military reputation), though other factors such as gains in state-building through cease-fire agreements and the high dependence on China played an important “indirect” role. The findings challenge transition theory, which seeks to explain transition processes via elite level bargaining and political pacts between hard and softliners. In another article for Asian Survey he characterised the changes in Myanmar as a “protracted transition”, which might take years, if not decades to evolve, and opposition forces face numerous challenges to fully democratize the regime. The transition changed actually very little of the role of the military, which can be described as guardian of the political order. Marco Bünte is actually one of the very few scholars who has worked on the economic foundations of military rule. In Khaki Capital (edited by Paul Chambers and Napisa Waitoolkiat, NIAS 2017), Marco Bünte looked into the origins and continuities of the political economy of the military. The project is ongoing.

Current Research Projects

Presidentialism in East and Southeast Asia (2014-2019): The project aims to analyse the impact of the forms of government on the young democracies in East And Southeast Asia. Regional patterns have long been crucial to debates about presidentialism starting with cases in Latin America, in which presidential systems were seen as having contributed to political instability. According to Juan Linz, presidentialist systems pose an imminent danger to democratic consolidation to democracy. In a Special Issue of Contemporary Politics, Dr. Bünte (and his co-editor Mark Thompson) have shown for the Southeast Asian cases that presidentialism can be associated with elite accommodation and stability as well as political conflict and instability. The special issue includes pure forms of presidentialism (Indonesia, Philippines) and other, more hybrid forms (Myanmar, Timor Leste). The project will compare these findings with East Asian cases (South Korea, Taiwan) in the future.

National Human Rights Institutions in Southeast Asia (2018-2020): The project, which has received funding under the CRISEA/ EU Horizon 2020 grant, looks at the origins, mandate and impact of National Human Rights Institutions in Southeast Asia. The establishment of these institutions is puzzling given the dismal human rights record of most of the Southeast Asian states. National Human Rights can evolve into powerful actors in their own right and influence state compliance with human rights. The project looks into various episodes of human rights struggles to characterise the state of Southeast Asian human rights framework.


Dr Marco Bünte`s teaching experience covers Comparative Politics, International Relations and Development Studies. Before joining Monash, he has taught at the universities of Hamburg, Kiel, Göttingen, Rostock and Helsinki - both at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Dr. Bünte`s broader objectives in teaching political science units are a) to provide students with the analytic and conceptual tools to understand the political world; b) to promote student interest and excitement in politics and political science c) to cultivate the skills of the discipline, including critical analysis and writing abilities (for undergraduates) and various methodological tools for postgraduates. d) Beyond incorporating textbooks and primary sources, Dr. Bünte also brings his own research expertise and experience as a think tank analyst into the classroom. Students can not only participate in the knowledge generation and critique process, but also gain first-hand experience in the applicability of course material to both academia and the real world. Often, the assignments of his courses include policy papers or briefings to show the linkages between academic research and the complex real world out there.

Books (selection)

Bünte, Marco and Björn Dressel: Politics and Constitutions in Southeast Asia, Routledge 2017.

Bünte, Marco and Aurel Croissant: The crisis of democratic governance in Southeast Asia, Basingstoke: Palgrave 2010.

Edited Special Issues

Presidentialism in Southeast Asia, Contemporary Politics, Vol. 28, No. 3 (2018) (with Mark R. Thompson).

Constitutionalism in Southeast Asia, Contemporary Southeast Asia, Vol. 39, No. 1 (2014) (with Björn Dressel).

Journal Articles (Selection)

Bünte, Marco: Perilous Presidentialism in Southeast Asia?, Contemporary Politics, Vol. 28, No. 3 (2018), 1-15 (with Mark Thompson)

Bünte, Marco: Perilous Presidentialism or Pernicious Power-sharing? Hybrid Regime Dynamics in Myanmar, Contemporary Politics, Vol. 28, No. 3, 346-360. (2018)

Bünte, Marco: Building Governance From Scratch: Myanmar and the Extractive Transparency Initiative, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 4, 230-251 (2018).

Bünte, Marco: Myanmar's Protracted Transition: Arenas, Actors, and Outcomes, in: Asian Survey 56/2 (2016), 369-391.

Bünte, Marco and Jörn Dosch: Myanmar: Political Reforms and the Recalibration of Foreign Relations, in: Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs 34/2 (2015), 3-19.

Bünte, Marco: Burma's Transition from Military Rule: From Rulers to Guardians? Armed Forces & Society,40/4(2014), 742-764

Bünte, Marco: Constitutional Politics in Southeast Asia: From Contestation to Constitutionalism?, in: Contemporary Southeast Asia, 1/2014, pp. 1-22 (with Björn Dressel)

Book Chapters (Selection)

Bünte, Marco: Policing Politics: Myanmar’s Military Regime and Protest Spaces in Transition, in: Eva Hansson and Meredith Weiss (ed.), Political Participation in Asia. Defining and Deploying Political Space, London: Routledge 2018, pp. 188-206.

Bünte, Marco: The NLD-Military Coalition in Myanmar: Military Guardianship and its economic foundations, in: Khaki Capital: The Political Economy of the Military in Southeast Asia, ed by Paul Chambers and Napisa Waitoolkiat, Copenhagen: NIAS 2017, pp. 93-130.

Bünte, Marco: Contesting Constitutionalism: Constitutional Politics in Southeast Asia, London: Routledge 2017, pp.3-23 (with Björn Dressel)

Bünte, Marco: Human Rights in Southeast Asia: From Contestation to Compliance? in: Marco Bünte and Björn Dressel: Politics and Constitutions in Southeast Asia, London: Routledge 2017, pp. 163-186.

Bünte, Marco: China’s Rise in Southeast Asia and its Impact on Regional Institution-Building: Who is Leading whom? in: Howard Loewen/Anja Zorob: Regional Integration in Comparative Perspective, Heidelberg, Springer: United Nations Series on Regionalism 2018, pp.

Reports and Working Papers (Selection)

Bünte, Marco: Country Report Myanmar, BTI 2018 (forthcoming), Gütersloh: Bertelsmann.

Bünte, Marco: The End of Myanmar's Military-Guided Electoral Authoritarianism: The 2015 Elections, Southeast Asia Research Centre, City University Hong Kong, Working Paper No. 176.

Bünte, Marco: Myanmar’s Political Liberalization: On the Road to Democracy?, in: Asia Policy Brief, Bertelsmann-Foundation, 1/2014, www.

Bünte, Marco: Myanmar, Bertelsmann-Foundation, Transformation-Index 2014

International Grants

Marco Bünte: CRISEA (Competing Regional Integrations in Southeast Asia), Work Package 2: The Liberal State in Southeast Asia. Consortium funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Project, Grant No. 770562 (30.000 Euro).

Nesadurai, H.E.S., Breslin, S., Bünte, M., Nair, S., Gunawardene, S., Elias, J., Rethel, L., Tan, C., 2014-2015: Transnational Private Regulation and Multi-level Governance in Southeast Asia: Investigating the Possibilities and Limitations for “Progressive” Governance, Monash -Warwick Strategic Alliance (RM 34,759).

Marco Bünte, Andreas Ufen: Populism in Southeast Asia, Internal Grant, Global Asia 21 Research Platform, School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University November, 2017.

Marco Bünte, Margot Schüller: China`s rise in Southeast Asia: Options for Trilateral Cooperation, 2010, Funding body: German Ministry of Development Cooperation (120.000 Euro).

Marco Bünte, Aurel Croissant: The Crisis of Democratic Governance, Workshop Grant, Thyssen Foundation, 2009 (27.000 Euro).

Areas of Research & Supervision

Dr Marco Bünte supervise students in the broader fields of contemporary politics of Southeast Asia, both from a comparative politics or International relations perspective. Topics include social movements, human rights, political institutions and political change.

Postgraduate (Monash University)


Satish Ranggayah (with associate supervisor:  Professor Helen Nesadurai)

Implications of the rohingya human trafficking issue to Malaysia's national security


Choong Pui Yee (with associate supervisor: Dr Joel D Moore)

The anatomy of Christian mobilisation in Malaysia: Factors, implications and possibilities


Timotheus J Krahl (with associate supervisor: Professor Joern Dosch)

Analyzing the Achievements of the Greater Mekong Subregion: The Impact of Subregional Cooperation on Security & Peace


Awards and Fellowships

  • Monash University Pro Vice Chancellor‘s Commendation for Excellence in Research, 2017, Monash University Malaysia.
  • Visiting Fellowship, Centre Research Internationale (CERI), Science Po, Paris, 2016 (4000 Euro).
  • Visiting Fellowship, Southeast Asian Research Centre (SEARC), City University Hong Kong, 2016.
  • Visiting Fellowship, Curtin University, 2010, 8000 Euro.