Portugal's prime minister says it's not a problem that his Cabinet contains a husband and wife, as well as a father and daughter, and insists that the relatives of senior politicians received other government jobs based on merit.

Opposition parties criticized Prime Minister Antonio Costa's Socialist government after Portuguese media reported that along with the family pairs in the Cabinet, other relatives of senior Socialist Party members had gotten government positions.

Costa's administration hasn't been accused of doing anything illegal, but critics say the pattern smacks of nepotism.

The prime minister brushed off the criticism on Thursday, saying he is "sure that nobody in the government was appointed because of their family links."

Costa also noted the criticism emerged in an election year. Portugal's general election is set for October.