With elections for the parliament and the Assembly of Experts scheduled for February 2016, hard-liners launched a new crackdown in 2015.At least four journalists were arrested, while several intellectuals, artists, and human rights activists were sentenced to lengthy prison terms.He was convinced a high birth-rate would be bad for the economy.

Only one reformist candidate, who was widely seen as lacking both charisma and significant popular support, was allowed to run.

In the run-up to the election, censorship increased, the government intensified its press crackdown, and authorities restricted the already slow speed of the internet.

As a result, Iranian voters are given a limited choice of candidates.

The president, the second-highest-ranking official in the Islamic Republic, is elected by popular vote for four years and can serve two consecutive terms.

correspondent Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American, was sentenced to an unspecified prison term following a closed-door trial on widely criticized espionage charges.

There was also a surge in executions during the year, with estimates indicating that the number easily exceeded the reported total for 2014. Electoral Process: 3 / 12 The supreme leader, who has no fixed term, is the highest authority in the country.

Since the Iranian revolution and hostage crisis of 1979, Iran has had antagonistic relations with the U. and other Western nations, with little official communication between heads of state, fierce rhetoric on opposing sides, and increasing sanctions.

If you've heard former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad describe the U. as the "Great Satan," then the warm feelings most Iranians have for Westerners may come as a surprise.

The supreme leader is appointed by the Assembly of Experts, which also monitors his work.

However, in practice his decisions appear to go unchallenged by the assembly, whose proceedings are kept confidential.

On International Women's Day in April, Rouhani spoke live on television and criticized those who consider women a threat, saying Iran had "a long way to go" and that he "will not accept the culture of sexual discrimination." "According to the Islamic rules, man is not the stronger sex and woman is not the weaker one," he said.